Volunteering at Macmillan not only helped Fundraising Manager Laura Stockwell cope with her Grandpa’s cancer diagnosis and treatment, but was instrumental in securing her first job after graduating from university.
After her Grandpa was diagnosed with bowel cancer during her final year of university in 2014, Laura decided to become a Macmillan Cancer Support Information Volunteer at Glasgow Libraries.
The 22 year old had used Macmillan’s online cancer information to find out more about the disease affecting her Grandpa, and had found it really useful in terms of letting her know what to expect with his illness.
“I wanted to offer something back to Macmillan after all the help I received,” she explained. “I thought volunteering was a way of getting positive experience with cancer after something so negative.”
As an Information Volunteer, Laura was trained to give advice and support to people affected by cancer in Glasgow. This included a talk from a Macmillan nurse about the side effects of cancer and treatment types, along with training on how to have difficult conversations. She was also provided with information about the various cancer and support services in Glasgow along with details on how they work with Macmillan.
“I loved being an Information Support Volunteer,” said Laura. “I suddenly felt as if I had all this information and knowledge at my fingertips that I could share and use to help other people who were in a similar situation to me and my family.”
“The support from Macmillan and Glasgow Life was also fantastic. There were regular volunteer meetings, social events with other volunteers and I even had a local manager that I could turn to if I ever needed any additional help or support.”
At the same time as she was training to become an Information Volunteer, Laura was also accepted to do an unpaid fundraising internship for Macmillan Cancer Support as part of the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning.
Her training for this role saw her travel to London, to meet other WBCM interns and to teach her how to turn her experiences of fundraising as a hobby into a job.
Off the back of the internship, Laura landed her first graduate job as a community fundraiser at Alzheimer Scotland, where she stayed for a year and a half, before being appointed to Fundraising Manager for Macmillan in Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire.
“Working for the third sector was always something that interested me. Interning for Macmillan made me realise that I was able to use my skills and do what I enjoy to help people affected by cancer.
“It sounds strange to say, but I do think that being a volunteer is one of the most selfish things you can do. It makes you feel fantastic, and I have learned so much from my experiences.
“Although I initially volunteered to try and give something back and to help people, I wouldn’t have got to where I am today without those experiences.
“All the support I have been given, and this feeling of being part of something bigger that is making a difference to people affected by cancer – it’s great! My experiences as a volunteer really gave me something positive to focus on during my Grandpa’s illness and helped me to deal with his death. My advice to anyone thinking of becoming a volunteer – just do it! It will be the best thing you ever did.”