My name is Val and I have been living in Spain since July 2005. When I lived in England I was a supervisor working alongside many volunteers on the Post Natal Helpline called MAMA. I found it very rewarding, but as it was only a telephone helpline I felt rather isolated and when my contract ran out I took the post of manager for Croydon face to face which was originally set up by SCOPE. I loved my job, I used to train and work with volunteers (who all had a child with special needs of their own). We would help parents who had a new diagnosis of their child’s disability to try to manage and cope with this news. It usually involved going to hospitals and schools to help them discuss their child’s needs and treatments. It was a time when parents needed someone outside the family to talk to. I feel it was the most rewarding and enjoyable job I have ever had. Although sometimes the news was not very good, we still managed to raise a smile between us. Since I have been living in Spain, I have enjoyed my time out, but now feel I would like to give some time to people who need support.

I joined MACS after Elaine made a radio request for volunteers to help with patient’s emotional support. I attended the first training session and have been a buddy ever since. My time with MACS has been both sad but mostly very rewarding. I give my time freely as I know if I were going through cancer both my husband and myself would want the security of a group to help us through. I always try to attend the patients and carers group each month as I find it so rewarding to see them all supporting each other.

I have watched the group grow so much over the past few years. It is a well known and respected organisation. The offer of emotional support is second to none because we all really care. Even if it is just five minutes on the phone or a two hour home visit, it all helps. What I find so rewarding about MACS is that its not just there for the patient but for the carer as well, which is very important. I hope to still be here in my supporting role for a long time yet.