AN Omagh woman who lends a listening ear to cancer sufferers is encouraging others to get involved in the ‘Telephone Buddy’ scheme.
Tara Boyle from Omagh is a volunteer for Macmillan Cancer Support and spends one hour a week talking to someone who has been diagnosed with the illness. Macmillan matches volunteers with people living with cancer so that they can arrange to have regular chats with someone about what they’re going through.
Typically, each volunteer will offer up to 12 weeks of support, but this can be adjusted to suit the needs of the person they are helping.
Tara recently took up the role during the Covid-19 lockdown after all other volunteering activities were suspended.
She explained, “In normal times, I volunteer as a fundraiser for Macmillan, attend cheque collections and presentations.
“Due to the Covid outbreak, volunteers cannot do face to face activities so I saw the Buddy Scheme advertised and I thought I would like to do that.
“We generally talk about everyday life and what people have been up to rather than dwelling on the cancer diagnosis.
“Sometimes we also talk about their worries but it’s just about being there to listen,” said Tara.
The volunteer will also let their ‘buddy’ know about other services, and the many ways that Macmillan can help support them.
Tara says it’s rewarding to be a support for those who are dealing with concerns around treatment, anxiety, isolation from loved ones, and fears about their increased risk of contracting Covid-19.
Tara continued, “Many people are feeling isolated right now, and the Telephone Buddy Scheme means that the person who is your buddy knows that you will call at a specific time each week and they look forward to that chat.
“It’s rewarding to know that you have helped someone in some way, perhaps to get something that has been worrying them off their chest, or to share something positive during what has been a very difficult time for many.”
• People can sign up online at www.macmillan.org.uk/telephonebuddies or by phone on the Macmillan Support Line 0808 808 00 00 to register interest.