Where can I get support over the festive season?

4 minute read time.
Where can I get support over the festive season?

Where can I get support over the festive season?

This month, people all over the UK will be celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Bodhi Day, Kwanzaa and the Winter Solstice.

For many of us, it will be a chance to spend precious time with family and friends, making happy memories. But for some people affected by cancer, the festive season comes with added emotional and practical challenges to navigate.

The pressure of creating the ‘perfect’ family Christmas, while secretly dealing with uncertainty about the future can be overwhelming. Some people may be wondering what to eat while managing side effects of treatment. Or how to adjust festive food menus to make sure loved ones feel included. Others may feel isolated, lonely, scared or worried, whether they’re surrounded by family and friends or living on their own.

With many health and support services closing over the holidays, people living with cancer or supporting loved ones who have cancer may be left feeling anxious about where to turn for support.

Support from Macmillan

Here at Macmillan, we know cancer doesn’t take a holiday. That’s why we will be here for you throughout the festive period.

Macmillan Support Line

Our cancer information nurse specialists and cancer information and support team will be available every day, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. If you would like to chat to someone for practical and emotional support, you can:

  • text relay, where a third party is brought into the call to relay information via text. To make a text relay call to the Support Line, the caller can dial 18001 followed by 0808 808 00 00, or download the Relay UK app (Google Play/App Store).

British Sign Language support

If you are hard of hearing or D/deaf, you can ask for a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter call to be set up. You can do this by emailing us or chatting with us online. Or if you prefer, you can ask a hearing family member or friend to call the support line on your behalf.

It can take up to 3 working days to arrange a call. This depends on the availability of BSL interpreters and finding a time that suits you. You will need to have access to a laptop or PC, a good internet connection and a webcam.

Macmillan Online Community

Macmillan’s Online Community is available 24 hours a day, every day. Whether you’re going through cancer treatment, coping with a cancer diagnosis, side effects or recovery, supporting a loved one or coping with bereavement, our members are here to offer support and understanding.

Other support

As well as Macmillan, there are other services here to support you.

Health professionals

If you’re worried about symptoms or need medical assistance outside normal GP surgery opening hours, you can contact the following services:

  • NHS 111 call 111 for England, Wales and Scotland
  • HSC GP Out Of Hours (see website for your local contact number) – Northern Ireland

If you are having cancer treatment and you’re worried about new or worsening symptoms, you should contact the 24 hour emergency number given to you by your treatment team. 

If you need immediate emotional or mental health support

If you would like to talk to someone right now, there are services available who can help.

  • The Samaritans helpline. You can call the Samaritans 24 hours a day for free on 116 123. They are also piloting a new webchat service.
  • Shout Crisis Textline. If you need immediate support, you can text SHOUT to 85258 and talk to a trained volunteer. The service is free on most networks in the UK and available 24 hours a day.
  • NHS urgent mental health helplines (England only). You can call for: 24-hour advice and support for you, your child, your parent or someone you care for; help speaking to a mental health professional; or an assessment to find the right care for you.
  • Breathing Space (Scotland only). You can call the free support line on 0800 83 85 87 to speak to someone if you’re struggling with depression, anxiety or low mood.
  • A.L.L. (Wales only). You can call their free support line 24 hours a day on 0800 132 737 or text help to 81066.
  • Lifeline 24hr (Northern Ireland only). You can call their free helpline 24 hours a day on 0808 808 8000 or Textphone 18001 0808 808 8000.

If you have serious concerns for your immediate safety or someone else’s, go to your nearest Accident and Emergency department or call the emergency services 999 for assistance.

We know this is a difficult time of year for many of you. Please remember, you are not alone. From everyone here at Macmillan Cancer Support, we wish you a safe and restful holiday.

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