01851 706721


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.



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WICCI Virtual AGM – coming soon

It is nearly time for the annual WICCI AGM, which will be a virtual event this year…if we can work out the technology!

Before we publish the dates and notice of AGM, we thought we would highlight that you can become a member of WICCI anytime by filling out the form attached.  Becoming a member enables you to then stand as a Board Member…and we have a number of vacancies this year to fill.

Currently, we have the following Trustees on the WICCI Board and have room for 12 in total:

  • Donald Macleod – Chairman
  • Iain Macaulay – Vice Chair
  • Lindsay Macleod – Treasurer
  • Christina MacIver
  • Jessie Murray
  • Don Maclean
  • Margaret Eaves
  • Mabel Macleay

If you were interested in standing as a WICCI Trustee, please get in touch – office@wicci.org.uk or 01851706721.

We would be particularly keen to have some representation from the Southern Isles.  Membership Form Aug20

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Travel Buddies

Call for island Travel Buddies

Friendly faces and willing helpers in Stornoway, Inverness and Glasgow are needed for a new service for people travelling for cancer treatment.

The call went out last week (Thursday 5 March) for people who can drive and who have some spare time to become Travel Buddies as part of a Macmillan Cancer Support service.

Helping Matters offers the chance not only to make arduous trips for hospital treatment easier for those with cancer, but also for people with island connections to give something back to their community – even when they live away from home.

The drivers are wanted to meet patients at Stornoway, Inverness or Glasgow airport and to drive them to their hospital appointment. Good listening skills, patience and respect for confidentiality are essential, as is a car and the willingness to give some time.

Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative (WICCI) development manager, Helen Sandison, said: “Travelling to hospital appointments can be very stressful, and people really don’t need the extra hassle of finding taxis or trying to work out bus routes.

“We need people in Glasgow and Inverness for island patients, and in Stornoway to meet patients travelling from the Southern Isles. People with island links would be ideal as they will have the knowledge and empathy to make a real connection with the patients.

“This service is not just for people travelling alone, but for people who already have a patient escort. Both may need some help with the transport arrangements to and from the airport, or it may be that a car will simply smooth the path for their travel.

“By choosing to join us as a Travel Buddy you will be doing something amazing for people at a difficult time.”

The Macmillan Helping Matters Travel Buddy scheme is already in operation from other parts of Scotland remote from the mainland hospitals.

To find out more about the role and offer your help, contact Helen Sandison on 01851 706721 or call into the WICCI office on Cromwell Street.


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March Treatments and Therapies

Please see our treatments available in March. If you would like to book onto any of the below treatments, therapies or wish to discuss these further, please contact the WICCI office on 01851 706721






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February Treatments and Therapies

Please see our treatments available in February. If you would like to book onto any of the below treatments, therapies or wish to discuss these further, please contact the WICCI office on 01851 706721





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January Treatments and Therapies

Please see our treatments available in January. If you would like to book onto any of the below treatments, therapies or wish to discuss these further, please contact the WICCI office on 01851 706721



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December Treatments and Therapies

Please see our treatments available in December. If you would like to book onto any of the below treatments, therapies or wish to discuss these further, please contact the WICCI office on 01851 706721

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Exciting new development for WICCI!

Since opening the Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative project in February 2018, we have been listening to the experiences of those with cancer in the Western Isles.

With the continued support of Macmillan Cancer Support, the Pentland Windfarm, and generous donations received in 2018, notably from the @lighthouse2lighthouse challenge last year, we are opening a trial project to provide a centre for those affected by cancer – physically based in Stornoway – but deliverable throughout the Western Isles.

Our new base, on Cromwell Street, will provide two treatment rooms offering a range of complimentary therapies and counselling, and a congregational space to deliver group activities, information and support.

The services offered will be available to anyone who is affected by cancer, who wish to take some control over their wellbeing on the road through cancer treatment. Cancer affects so much more than the body so we hope, in some way, to support cancer patients in the Western Isles through this life-changing chapter.

Our new unit is beside Kopi Java on Cromwell Street and we are hugely indebted to the landlord who has helped us with the fitting out of the unit to help us achieve this vision. His support and flexibility has enabled us to start this project with the aim of building and growing in the years to come.

Whilst the running costs of the project are covered for the next year, fundraising begins in earnest next year to continue the project beyond 2020 and we are already working on discussions with funders to secure support for us to do this.

However, we are facing a shortfall in the initial refurbishment costs of our new premises, which we could cover in our existing budget, but we would much prefer to use this to offer more services for our members.

Therefore, we are asking for the help of individuals and businesses in the Western Isles to raise £5000 which will help cover the following costs:
• Our initial deposit
• Floor coverings
• External Signage
• Internal alterations not covered by the landlord such as sound proofing, lighting and extra electricals in the building.

We have launched a GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/wicci-cancer-support-centre-setup-… where people can donate what they can towards these costs. Any donations are very gratefully received to help us reach our target of £5000.

If any local businesses or individuals wished to offer a significant donation, we would be happy to formally recognise this support in our new centre.

We are aiming to be in the new building from July, with the new services to be up and running by the beginning of September.

If you are a therapist or counsellor who may be interested in delivering services to our members, and have not already been in touch, please do contact us. We are always looking for specialists to work with us, you will be paid on a self-employed basis, so if you think you could spare some time and expertise, get in touch – office@wicci.org.uk.

We will also be looking for volunteers, who have been through cancer treatment, who would be willing to come into the centre on a couple of occasions per week to meet with anyone who comes in for a chat, share advice and offer support. If you think you are able to provide this vital service, please get in touch.

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WICCI AGM Wednesday 5th June 2019

7pm at Western Isles Hospital Training rooms

The AGM of WICCI will take place on Wednesday 5th June from 7pm at the Western Isles Hospital.

All members are invited to attend. To become a member of WICCI please complete a membership form (also available from the office).

We are delighted to welcome to the AGM this year, Janice Preston, Head of Macmillan Cancer Support Scotland, who will be updating us on Macmillan’s work in Scotland and how WICCI fits in to the picture.

For more information, please contact us 01851707219 or office@wicci.org.uk

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Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan and Western Isles patient groups have welcomed the news that a working group will be convened to review NHS Western Isles’ system for approving funding for patient escorts.

Patients travelling off-island for treatment to mainland hospitals will, in many cases, require an escort to accompany them. Last year, NHS Western Isles announced a new system for approving requests for NHS-funded escorts, with the Health Board making the decision where this had previously been the responsibility of the patient’s GP.

While there were no changes made to the criteria for approving escorts or to the Patient Travel Policy, it appeared to patient groups that the criteria were being much more strictly enforced, leading to increasing numbers of people having their applications for a patient escort refused. Patient advocacy groups, led by the Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative (WICCI), have been pushing for a more patient-centred form of approval for patient escorts.

Following a petition launched by WICCI that gained over 3,000 signatures, and lobbying of the Scottish Government by Isles MSP Alasdair Allan, the Cabinet Secretary for Health Jeane Freeman has ordered NHS Western Isles to convene a working group as a matter of priority to review the process for patient escorts and take steps where required to ensure it is patient-centred and operates in such a way that best supports patients in making applications.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

“This is a really important step forward and I am grateful for the Cabinet Secretary’s intervention.

“Far too many islanders have been travelling to the mainland to receive a diagnosis for cancer, or another condition with life changing implications, with no emotional support from a friend of loved one. There has been a lack of dialogue with patient advocacy groups.

“I look forward to seeing what comes out of the working group and I hope we will see a more patient-centred policy going forward.”

Helen Sandison from the Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative commented:

“WICCI very much welcome the intervention by Ms Freeman on the issue of Patient Escort Travel.

“For many months now we have heard first hand of several patients struggling to either obtain escort permission and having to cope financially when a request is refused, or to appeal a decision at a time when they could well do without the stress and upset.

“We are delighted that Ms Freeman has directly requested a focus group be established and a response to be brought back to her by mid-July. We will happily contribute to that group. We already have nominees from the Men’s Cancer Group, Neuro Hebrides and the WI Carers, Users & Supporters Network to take part in discussion too.

“As mentioned in her letter to WIHB, it is essential that the process for funding escorts is patient centred, and we aim to work constructively with the WIHB to make it so. Thank you to the thousands of Western Isles residents who signed our petition and who have contributed to our survey, also to our MSP Dr Alasdair Allan and his staff and MSP Rhoda Grant for raising this issue with the Cabinet Secretary.”

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