Cancer support service opens in Manchester

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 30, 2009
Chai’s Elaine Kerr (right) and Shirley Mitchell at the Manchester site

Chai’s Elaine Kerr (right) and Shirley Mitchell at the Manchester site

Chai Cancer Care has opened the first dedicated Jewish cancer support service in Manchester, offering counselling, financial advice and complementary therapies from a newly refurbished facility within the Heathlands care village.

Eminent cancer specialist Gordon Jayson, professor of medical oncology at the Christie Hospital, is advising the north London-based charity on the development of its latest satellite service — and its first outside the capital.

Chai helps patients and their loved ones cope with the impact of the disease, covering issues ranging from the side effects of treatment to benefits advice. Although the Heathlands facility will officially launch on May 17, Chai chief executive Elaine Kerr says staff have already begun work due to the volume of requests.

“We’ve been desperate to get Manchester staff because until now we could only offer telephone counselling,” she explained.

The local team includes four counsellors and two complementary therapists. “We are offering reflexology and aromatherapy and hope to add acupuncture and swelling-reduction treatments. People can come to us in Heathlands, but all services are available in clients’ homes anywhere in Greater Manchester if they choose.”

Modelled on the Chai satellite operation in Redbridge, it is projected that up to 300 will use the service in its first year. The charity estimates that 900 Jews are affected by cancer in Manchester annually, either directly or by caring for someone with the disease.

Heathlands offered premises without charge and leading local Jewish welfare charity The Fed — which is merging with Heathlands — is also crucial to the project. “As assessors for local care, The Fed will help to get the services patients and families need.”

The Fed’s chief executive Karen Phillips says the Chai service will link with its own carer support network.

Her Heathlands counterpart Janet Lewis sees the collaboration as an example of providing cost-effective care through use of existing facilities.

Last updated: 4:56pm, July 22 2009