WHO ARE AL’S PALS AND WHAT DO THEY DO?
Al’s Pals is a cancer buddy scheme, based in the Cancer Centre at Milton Keynes University Hospital. It’s
named after Alan Dumbell, who received cancer treatment at the hospital. He noticed that despite being
surrounded by a loving family, he still felt very lonely and lost at times and that something was missing,
something that might make dealing with the situation easier.
Al’s Pals cancer buddy scheme, supported by Macmillan Cancer Support and MKUH, offers this additional
service to all cancer patients in Milton Keynes and is Alan’s legacy.
Buddys provide emotional and practical support for the patient and their family in so many ways - from
attending appointments with patients to visiting them on the ward, from keeping in touch on the phone
between visits and providing gifts to cheer them up to offering end of life support.
WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?
Fundraising events during the year mean that Al’s Pals are able to provide additional support to patients
by giving little gifts aimed at lifting the spirits. Though seemingly insignificant - as simple as just a cup of
tea and slice of cake, magazines and books - Al’s Pals are very aware of how important these small
gestures are. The onset of lockdown and the cancellation of events meant that there were now no funds
available to continue this activity.
The Coronavirus situation also meant that patients were unable to bring in visitors with them during
treatment, so the only people they would be seeing were Doctors, Nurses and Al’s Pals volunteers. Al’s
Pals understood only too well how lonely and frightening the situation had become for those they support
–not only do they have cancer to contend with, but now they’ve the added risk of Coronavirus infection.
WHAT DIFFERENCE DID THE APPEAL AWARD MAKE?
As a direct result of the award funding, Al’s Pals have been able to continue to bring those small, yet
incredibly important tokens - and therefore a little joy - to patients. They’ve been able to show that they
care and truly understand.
“I was sat in the oncology unit within MK Cancer Centre Milton Keynes hospital having bloods done
for my next month’s treatment. A lovely lady came introduced herself and said she was from Al's
Pals buddy charity, she said they had been given a grant to put together gift bags for patients going
through cancer treatment and Coronavirus because they know and understand it's a hard time for
us at the moment...
I was also given a gift bag from Boots CMK - both gifts helped make me smile and make the day a
better one. Well it certainly did that".