The importance of working together to achieve success

on Tuesday, 06 February 2018. Posted in Blog Tags Barrow in Furness, Blog, cancer, CancerCare, Kendal, Lancaster, localcharity, northlancashire, slynedales, southlakeland, ulverston

CEO Neil's Weekly Blog

Good Morning. Driving to work the other day I was listening to the news about the latest statistics concerning prostate cancer and breast cancer which highlight a widening gap in death rates between the two.

The debate on the radio struck me for two reasons.

Firstly, it is 21 years today since my dad died from prostate cancer in 1997 and I was thinking about what happened to him and how at the time very little support was available to him.

Secondly, I thought about how active the Bay Prostate Group is not only in practical support but also how many local patients have been and continue to be involved in the latest clinical trials aimed at improving treatment and life expectancy. Personally, I am proud of what they do and indeed all of our support groups work.

My week started with a flourish of energy and drive that had begun on Saturday when, along with Alison Stainthorpe and Alison Dixey, we spent a brilliant day here with our Trustee Board.

I must say this away day was the best yet, with a strong strategic conversation and flow throughout the day.

It was, to me, a reflection of the journey CancerCare has been on over the past three years and demonstrated just how far we have all help moved this great charity forward.

I call it a 'journey', as that is precisely what it is, no doubt with a few twists and curves still to navigate. 

Our emerging strategic vision and the objectives we need to achieve are becoming so clear and I look forward to sharing these more widely following on from the conversations we have already earlier last year and the shaping of them by our Trustees.

We have been celebrating our volunteers and at our recent Lancaster coffee morning two such volunteers, Freda and Edith, brought in a cheque for £2,100 which they have raised in 2017 by holding a number of events in their local community.

They wanted to beat the 2016 amount of £1,600 raised and they did! Talking to them both is always a pleasure and it is clear to me that as well as raising funds for CancerCare, the social events they arrange are a lifeline to many people who feel lonely and isolated. Thank you both and all your supporters.

It is two years since the 'Living With and Beyond Cancer' project started here in our patch in Morecambe Bay.


On Wednesday the steering group on which I sit spent some time considering its progress and how we ensure that the improved practice and other learning becomes and stays embedded in the services that are available for cancer patients.

I am struck all the time when I speak with and see many of our clients, being supported by CancerCare and slowly but surely putting their lives back on track. This is the only proof, if we need any at all, that life does go on and is made a little easier by the support you give.

Talking of support, most of the staff team at CancerCare will have read my follow-up email regarding Christmas opening and what you said and therefore our decision to continue to open this year.

A recent article posted on our website about the positive impact of our service being available kind of makes the case very clear.

Mike McNabb, one of our counsellors, makes some really positive comments from his perspective and that of clients. It is great to see staff, volunteers and clients all contributing to different stories about our work.

Mike McNabb

I continue to hear wonderful things about the work of our drop-ins and the “small” acts of kindness and support that make a world of difference to an individual.

Whilst in Kendal on Thursday, I managed to call in to the drop in and witnessed these amazing examples of support.

On Sunday the 4th of February we marked World Cancer Day. A chance, perhaps, to catch a moment to reflect, remember someone close and for me, to think about what we are doing together in our work.

Can we do things better? What should we change? What should we do more of?  What should we stop? We can all do somethingand we all make a difference.

When we decided to take part in the MIND Workplace Index in 2016, this was, for me, the start of something really meaningful.

I was pleased to read the email from Tracey MacBride, one of the members of our well-being staff group. 'Time to Change' is a national initiative which sets out to support organisations in addressing and tackling mental health stigma.

This is vitally important as we know that many people with mental health problems say they are made to feel isolated, worthless and ashamed.

I hope by talking, continuing our journey, working with MIND, learning from the results of our next survey and building on what has been achieved so far, we can continue to create a workplace that encourages openness, happiness and mutual success.

At the weekend Alan and I met with friends over dinner and a few drinks.

I spent some time learning my lines for my forthcoming role in Priscilla Queen of the Desert in Blackpool and although I think I have 'Act 1' in my head, I am sure this is getting harder with age! Whatever you are doing, have a great weekend.


Neil Townsend

Chief Executive