Macmillan Cancer Support Case study: Alan McCausland

Alan McCausland, Macmillan Move More Coordinator & class attendee

M&S is supporting Macmillan Cancer Support for the ninth consecutive year as a headline partner on the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning. The money raised by stores, colleagues and customers enables Macmillan to fund their healthcare professionals who bring essential medical, practical and emotional support to people living with cancer and their families.

On Friday 28th September, M&S stores hosted a World’s Biggest Coffee Morning event to encourage customers and colleagues to raise vital funds to help people with cancer live life as fully as they can.

Since M&S’s partnership with the charity started, M&S customers and colleagues have helped raise over £13 million for Macmillan, including £3.5m in the last year alone, helping the charity to fund Macmillan professionals who play a critical role in helping people with cancer to live life as fully as they can.

One such Macmillan Professional, Alan McCausland is one of 8 ‘Macmillan Move More Coordinators’ in Northern Ireland, delivering physical activity programmes for people living with cancer at all stages throughout their cancer journey.

“I have always worked in health referral and physical activity programmes but now, as a Macmillan Move More Coordinator, I’m able to focus solely on supporting people living with cancer to become and remain active, and to enjoy an improved quality of life as a result. In my council area, I have supported over 350 people in the last two years to adopt an active lifestyle – this is great, but we know it’s the only the tip of the iceberg given the growing number of people who need our support.

“I work closely with the healthcare trusts and alongside other Macmillan professionals who refer clients they think will benefit from a physical activity scheme. Those referred will receive the tailored support that they need, and will get enjoy the health benefits associated with an active lifestyle. But Move More offers a lot more than improvements to physical health – it is also a great opportunity to meet other people, share experiences and receive peer support.  Once contact is made, I make an appointment to meet with each person individually, to talk about their needs and what is best for them – this is often over a cup of tea usually in a setting that is away from all the clinical appointments they have recently had. Therefore, we meet somewhere close by, a café etc where it is accessible and more relaxed for them.

“Everyone has their own story and it’s important we tailor the programme to them. Some join Move More with very little experience of physical activity and use it as a way of keeping active. Others are clients who previously exercised and who feel like they have lost a big part of their identity and life since being diagnosed with cancer and want to get it back. I was recently supporting a lady with a breast cancer diagnosis who was really fit before her diagnosis but now felt isolated and fatigued because of her cancer journey. Through funding from Macmillan, we provided her with the opportunity to complete her Level 4 Qualification in Exercise & Cancer Rehabilitation which has allowed her to play an active role in delivering physical activity sessions to people with cancer. For this lady, we’ve gone from someone completely losing control of their life to now living life as fully as she can. To see her delivering these classes is amazing!

“The idea of helping someone and seeing individuals make an improvement to their physical health which often also results in improved mental health, is something I find inspiring, and the difference Macmillan makes is incredible. Saying “I work for Macmillan” opens doors to community groups and conversations I previously struggled to get. I meet so many positive people in the most surprising of circumstances.

“Sometimes those in real need have the most positive outlook and this is the best part of my job. The social benefits for everyone attending, including me, is huge too, at times you can’t hear the music playing because the conversations between the group is so loud.  It’s nice to be in a room of people who understand each other and get where they’re coming from.

“At the end of the class we have tea and coffee, plus the occasional biscuit. One of our clients even brought in M&S tea the other day because she heard they were supporting Macmillan and wanted to give something back.  When you come home from work every day and you can say you love your job, that’s an incredible feeling and the satisfaction you can see from people making progress is a real motivator.”

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