By Your Side – A service born from experiences of life with cancer

Volunteer Dundee is excited to introduce a new form of support for people living with cancer in Dundee. By Your Side is about sharing experiences and having the opportunity to be honest about the challenges you are facing. We can match you with one of our trained volunteers who have all experienced living with cancer themselves. They will take time to listen and truly understand what you are going through. They can also help you to access the onward support you need to make your life easier.

The service has been designed by a group of people affected by cancer in Dundee, the Improving the Cancer Journey (ICJ) Cancer Voices Panel, and is a Macmillan Cancer Support and Volunteer Dundee partnership project.

Julie Wardrop is one of our volunteers and has been involved in the development of this service from the start. We asked her some questions about her experience.

How did the By Your Side project come about?

I am involved with CanDu, a patient and survivor-led charity that works to ensure the voice of people affected by cancer is placed at the heart of service design and delivery.  There is a very special connection between people whose lives have been touched by cancer.  This shared experience allows a deep understanding and empathy between people and we were passionate about developing this special quality into a practical offering of support for anyone affected by cancer in Dundee.  We have worked, as part of the Macmillan ICJ Voices Panel, over the last 18 months to shape this new service, channelling the power of lived experience into a project which we hope will be a lasting legacy of the work of the Voices team.

How have you been involved in developing the service?

Myself and two other members of the Voices team were involved in co-designing the service with Macmillan and Volunteer Dundee from the very beginning, with valuable input from representatives of other local cancer support organisations; Tayside Cancer Support & Maggie’s Dundee.  As members of the steering group, shaping how the service will be delivered, as well as taking a central role in developing the volunteer training programme, we were able to ensure that the views of people affected by cancer remained central throughout and the service was best designed for the people who will use it.

Which key thing would you point to that you have shaped?

We will be heavily involved in the training and ongoing support given to volunteers.  We were passionate about this from the beginning and we know that the most valuable thing the volunteers bring is their own lived experience of cancer.  We are committed to ensuring the By Your Side volunteers receive the benefits of quality support as they help others in their journey with cancer.

How would you describe your experience?

This experience has only further reinforced how powerful and valuable sharing lived experience can be, how it can influence services in a way which is inspiring and transformational.  I would encourage anyone with an experience of cancer, who is inspired to help others in their local community, to get involved.

If you are interested in hearing more information about the By Your Side project, or would like to volunteer, please contact us at

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