Macmillan Volunteering – Holly’s experience

About Macmillan Volunteering

The innovative Macmillan DMU Volunteering Scheme brings together several of the University’s strategies: working together with our local community, improving the lives of people in Leicester, and increasing the employability of our students.

Volunteering is open to all students, but students from the Faculty of HLS have the opportunity to undertake the scheme as a module and gain an additional 15 credits to their programme.

How to get involved

Emotional and Practical Support Volunteering– helping someone affected by cancer by either providing a listening ear, popping around for a chat over a cuppa and/or helping with house chores such as vacuuming, gardening, walking the dog.

Fundraising – helping at events or holding your own event to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Raising Awareness of Cancer – representing or acting as an ambassador for Macmillan within the community, signposting about services offered.

If you are interested in getting involved with Macmillan Volunteering at DMU, get in touch with Reema Sandhu (DMU Macmillan Volunteering Coordinator) on 0116 201 3875 or at

Keep reading to find out what Holly thinks of completing her Emotional and Practical Support Training as part of Macmillan Volunteering. 

IMG_0335Whilst working for Macmillan, I was able to complete my emotional and practical support training. This is where you spend one hour a week helping someone with a cancer diagnosis. The help can range from cleaning the house, going food shopping or just simply talking to the person over a cup of coffee.

Earlier this year, I was referred to a single mother whose young son had been diagnosed with cancer. The idea was that I could help support the mother by talking to her and completing tasks around the house. However, upon our first meeting, she told me that she’d rather that I kept her son occupied for the hour that I was volunteering, so that she could get the housework done!

I would spend an hour each week, playing Fifa (and losing quite badly), playing football in the garden and playing Mario Kart on the wii. I even started collecting the world cup football stickers so that we could trade them at our weekly sessions. I had expected my volunteering experience to be hard work and yet I felt like I was slacking on the hard work in order to play games!

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all fun and games. During my volunteering, the little boy had to go into hospital for further treatment and became quite poorly. I continued our visits whilst he was in hospital and it was incredible to see his face light up when he saw me, because he knew that we would have an hour of fun together. Hospital stays are difficult for people of all ages and I think that my volunteering helped him to have a welcome break from being “sick” and instead he could act like a “normal” child for a short while.

I was very lucky to be able to see the little boy progress throughout his cancer, from being quite poorly, to receiving treatment and then to beating cancer and getting ready to go back to school. Although I felt like I was just playing games for an hour, I know that my help made a difference to that family. The mother was able to have a shower, cook some food or clean the house, without feeling guilty about leaving her child unoccupied. The little boy I played with was able to make a new friend and have an hour each week to forget about the fact that he had cancer.


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