Inside the Macmillan Move More Wandsworth programme

South London cancer patients, self-isolating due to COVID 19, have been staying active and connected thanks to a specialist exercise coaching and wellbeing service operating in Wandsworth, Merton and Sutton.

Macmillan Move More Wandsworth is delivered by Enable Leisure and Culture, in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support and NHS South West London CCG.

The scheme helps people living with cancer become more physically active, at a level that is right for them. Participants receive a personalised programme, tailored to their needs and current fitness levels. Suitable for people at any stage of cancer – whether still in treatment or on the road to recovery – Macmillan Move More has helped more than 300 people since its launch in 2016.

It has been well documented that national lockdowns left many clinically vulnerable people feeling isolated and less active than they were. Macmillan Move More Wandsworth responded by enabling local cancer patients to maintain their strength and ability to cope with the symptoms of treatment, while building a support network with others in a similar situation.

Although originally offered face-to-face, Macmillan Move More Wandsworth has continued to operate virtually throughout 2020, by phone or video call. Research shows that participants have felt able to enjoy new ways to stay active while restrictions are in place, thanks to the support of Macmillan Move More Team. The team hopes to return to face-to-face sessions as soon as it becomes safe to do so.

Wandsworth GP, Dr Owen Carter, who is clinical lead for cancer in Wandsworth, said: “This service provides vital support for our local residents living with cancer to enjoy the benefits of physical activity and improve their overall health. It has also proved especially valuable so our patients can keep in touch with local groups virtually and maintain friendshps.”

Mike from Merton was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year and joined Macmillan Move More in July. He said: “After meeting with the Macmillan Move More advisor for an initial consultation, I attended the online classes once a week. As I was not well and going to the hospital, the online class meant I could attend regularly through my treatment. It was a godsend; I started to move again.

“Activity is just the right thing to help with the side effects of treatment. But this was more than just an exercise class, the class leader undertook a full analysis of my situation before I joined and has kept in regular contact with me by email and telephone to check on my progress and needs. In addition, the class is friendly, and that camaraderie helps with the psychological aspects of my illness. At the end of each class there is time to chat with each other and that is very special. I continued with the class during my radiotherapy which followed. Macmillan Move More helped keep me moving and to feel better physically and mentally. It was a helpful, friendly and encouraging environment.”

Robyn Jenkins, Macmillan Partnership Manager for south west London said: “It’s heartening to hear of the unstinting support that Macmillan Move More Wandsworth has been providing to people living with cancer during COVID 19. It has been an isolating time for the clinically vulnerable, but the team has been full of inspired ideas to keep people with cancer active and engaged with their wider community.

“Being physically active can be of huge benefit to anyone impacted by cancer – whether they are in the middle of treatment or beyond. Recent research suggests that physical activity may reduce the likelihood of dying from cancer and may help prevent a recurrence. It can also help manage some of the often life-changing side effects people experience from treatment. So, if you know someone who might benefit from getting involved and getting active, give the Macmillan Move More Wandsworth Team a call today.”

Macmillan Move More Wandsworth remains open to new referrals. If you or anyone you know is living with, and beyond cancer, and would benefit from the service, please contact Marguerite Larvin, Macmillan Move More Advisor for Wandsworth on 0203 959 0039 or email: swlccg.movemorewandsworth@nhs.net.

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