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Western Isles Cancer Support Service Celebrates Reopening and Receiving Over £215,000 Funding

A local service providing much needed support for people affected by cancer is celebrating opening its doors again and receiving additional funding.

After a long period of closure and reduced service provision due to Covid restrictions, the Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative (WICCI) has now reopened.

Macmillan Cancer Support is investing a further £215,000 in the Initiative which will cover the staff and running costs for the WICCI Centre for three years. It will also enable WICCI to expand and build on the successes and achievements of the past three years and continue to develop its services, especially outreach to local communities throughout the Western Isles.

In addition to the work supported by this funding package, WICCI, through its Social Fund also provides financial support to individuals with cancer. This support helps to address the additional costs and financial hardship faced by many as a result of their diagnosis.  Since 2018 over 370 individuals have benefited locally with over £205,000 being distributed throughout the Western Isles. This aspect of WICCI’s work is also fully funded by Macmillan Cancer Support.

Macmillan’s head in Scotland, Janice Preston, said: “We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with the WICCI through this extension to their funding. The initiative was created to address specific needs of people affected by cancer on the islands and we’ve seen the difference that it has already made to local people. This funding will allow them to continue delivering this much needed support and expand their offer ensuring even more people can be reached. We could not provide this funding without the continued support of local fundraising committees who work so hard and are completely dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by cancer.”

Welcoming approval of the funding, Donald Macleod, WICCI Chairperson, explained that it has come at a crucial time “we were really busy in the WICCI Centre in Stornoway and in locations throughout the Western Isles since opening in Sept 2019 and then Covid hit, resulting in many of these services having to stop, the Centre had to close, with staff working from home and on part time furlough.  This, coupled with the devastating impact Covid restrictions has had on charitable fundraising activity, destabilised our long-term sustainability, causing concern for the future viability of the Charity. On behalf of our Trustees and service users I would like to thank Macmillan Cancer Support for their continuing intervention and all the other organisations and individuals who contribute to, and support this worthy cause”

These investments and support would not be possible without the continued dedication of the Macmillan fundraising committees in the Western Isles. They raise a tremendous amount every year and last year the Isle of Lewis fundraising committee was recognised by Macmillan Cancer Support for their achievements, fundraising in challenging times when traditional fundraising events could not happen.

Maggie Martin, Chairperson of the Isle of Lewis Macmillan fundraising team said “as a committee we stepped up to the challenge of delivering fundraising activities last year despite the pandemic, moving most of our usual raffles and events to online.  We were so pleased with the community support for our activities and were astounded when Macmillan announced that we were one of the top fundraising teams in the whole of the UK! We are so delighted to see our efforts returned to the Western Isles in the form of WICCI, it makes our role so much easier when we know the funding we raise is coming back to directly help people here from the Butt to Barra.”

WICCI is also able to offer complementary therapies and counselling services free of charge due to generous regular donations from within the local community.

Opening the doors again to users, Helen Sandison, WICCI Development manager commented “This funding package could not have come at a better time, we are so thankful to our friends at Macmillan Cancer Support and proud of the recognition of the good work we were achieving.  We are really looking forward to being able to support those affected by cancer throughout the Western Isles.”

Services are expected to resume from May, with Oncology Massage treatment starting on Saturday 8th May.  Anyone interested in attending an appointment should contact the WICCI Centre for details.  Covid regulations will dictate which activities can be delivered initially and many of the services will remain online.  For one of the groups, ‘Hebridean Harmony’, the venture onto online sessions has proved a positive one, with many of the users now dialling in from across the Western Isles who would not have been able to take part in the singing sessions when they were held in the WICCI Centre.