[This article was first published in the Edinburgh Evening News newspaper on the 14th of May 2019]
People with cancer need places like these. That is the motto of Maggie’s cancer support centres, the first of which was established in Edinburgh, opening its doors to the public in 1996.
The original Maggie’s is located within the Western General Hospital grounds and housed in a converted stable block, which looks unassuming from the outside. But seconds after walking in the door you are guaranteed a warm and friendly welcome from one of the dedicated staff who work at the centre.
Following an exhibition in the Scottish Parliament by Maggie’s, I was invited to visit one of the local centres and recently went to the site at the Western General. I was overwhelmed by just how bright and happy a place it was, a million miles away from the clinical setting of the hospital consultation rooms and corridors across the road.
This was always the intention though, as Maggie Jencks and her partner both believed in a building’s ability to uplift people, and the space both inside and out does just that.
Sipping a coffee that was handed to me only minutes after walking in, made by one of the regular volunteers at the centre, I then met with some of the excellent staff who assist in providing essential emotional and social support to people with cancer as well as to their family and friends.
In Edinburgh, these specialist staff offer one-to-one advice as well as group sessions, workshops and courses aimed at helping to address the physical and psychological impact of living with cancer.
If you or someone you know is living with cancer, visit a Maggie’s, they will be delighted to welcome you in.