St Giles Supportive Care Centre may be celebrating its 10th anniversary, but it’s not a journey the charity has done alone. This week features just a few of the partnerships which have developed at the Lindridge Road site and the wider community.
“It’s the community which benefits when charities work together – it’s far, far better than working in isolation.” That’s the view of Jackie Benzecry, of Breast Friends, one of the charities working with St Giles at the Supportive Care Centre.
Breast Friends, a self help and support group for women with breast cancer which started in 1996, started working with St Giles when they were looking for a regular meeting space.
The group, which provides emotional and practical help for women with breast cancer, was offered a room at the Lindridge Road site, which they began to use for daytime meetings and make-up workshops.
“It’s been great to be able to meet in such a lovely place, particularly as our members have been in a hospital environment for treatment,” said Jackie.
“But St Giles isn’t like that – it’s a place they can really relax and almost have an afternoon off from the cancer.
“It’s also become the home of our Lotus Group, for women who have secondary cancer of any type. Living with secondary cancer and accepting that your illness is incurable can be very isolating, so the opportunity to bring people together to share support and experiences has been invaluable.
“We now have around 20 people meeting regularly at St Giles and for newcomers to the group it has been an opportunity to talk to other women who may have been living with their illness for 10 to 15 years.
“It’s been incredibly beneficial and none of that would have been possible without St Giles.”
Breast Friends covers North Birmingham, with members joining from Lichfield, Burntwood, Great Barr and Tamworth.
“The location is wonderful for us as it’s so central to our catchment area and we’ve also been able to make cross referrals between all the services based at the centre,” said Jackie.
“It’s a real partnership, which we really appreciate and we are looking forward to working together with St Giles in the future.”
Also running at St Giles is a support group for people with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), a condition in which the lungs become scarred and breathing becomes increasingly difficult.
The group was set up in a partnership between Good Hope Hospital and St Giles, with the hospital’s respiratory nurse specialist Emma Briggs working alongside Nicky Holmes, a palliative care nurse from the hospice.
Meeting the first Tuesday of every month, the group now has between 15 and 20 members who share experiences and support, as well as listening to speakers on a range of subjects related to their condition.
“It’s a brilliant opportunity for people with IPF to share with people who know exactly what they are going through, from tips on eating and exercise to information about research projects and treatment options.
“Bringing together the shared skills of St Giles and Good Hope has really been beneficial to this group and it’s great to be part of it.”
The Lindridge Road site is also shared with the Cancer Support Centre, a separate charity independent of St Giles which was set up to support adults affected by cancer, from diagnosis right through their journey with cancer.
“The aim of the organisation is that people with cancer are as well as they possibly can be at whatever stage of the journey they are,” said Cancer Support Centre Manager Jackie Price.
“When we were given the opportunity of moving to the building in Lindridge Road, it meant big changes for the Cancer Support Centre.
“It’s a beautiful building with a wonderful outlook with much more space: more rooms, gardens and parking.
“It meant we could grow and support more folk affected by cancer and we have more than trebled the number we are supporting.”
The St Giles team has also worked with Age UK, Birmingham Carers and a range of medical and care professionals at the Supportive Care Centre, through training delivery, partner working and on occasion just providing a friendly, accessible place to meet.
“We are delighted to work in partnership with so many great organisations to deliver care for the people of Sutton Coldfield and beyond,” said Nikki Archer, Head of Supportive Care for St Giles.
“And we’d love to work with more so if you’d like to talk to us about a partnership, one of our groups or even just renting our meeting space, please get in touch.”