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York Hospital saves ‘unique’ cancer volunteer service

A British Red Cross volunteer service which has provided help and support to cancer patients at York Hospital for the past seven years has been saved from closure after our own volunteering service stepped in.

The volunteers provide a valuable therapy service to patients attending the oncology and haematology departments at the hospital by offering hand, arm and shoulder massage. The service came under threat after the British Red Cross had to reduce resources.

Kay Gamble, Deputy Lead for Patient Experience for our Trust, said: “We are delighted that the therapy volunteers have agreed to become hospital volunteers and we can retain this unique service. They put in many hours of valuable time offering support and make a big difference to patients when they are nervous and tense and don’t know what to expect.”

Their ‘hands on’ approach helps people undergoing chemotherapy who often have to sit for several hours which can make them feel stiff, and they also help the friends and family of patients who can be almost as stressed as the patient undergoing treatment.

Volunteer Carol Burns said: “I really value the opportunity to offer a massage to people coming into the cancer care unit. The shoulder and neck massage is good for creating some warmth in the muscles and eases some of the tension to help them relax. Providing hand and arm massage can be very soothing and is a good time to chat – listening and talking gives people the chance to voice concerns.

“I’m pleased that the Trust is taking over from the British Red Cross and that we can continue to support both patients and their carers in this way.”

Colette Kemp, British Red Cross Service Manager, said: “It’s been a pleasure to have these remarkable ladies as part of our volunteer service over the last seven years and it’s great news that they are able to carry on the good work.”

Anyone interested in volunteering at York Hospital should contact 01904 724520 or email

To find out more about volunteering for the British Red Cross contact 01609 772186.

Photo: York Hospital’s Volunteer Services Administrator Sarah Patten with British Red Cross Service Manager Collette Kemp and volunteers Margaret Bell, Ruth Cozens, Pat Colbeck, and Carol Burns.

03 May 2016

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