Building work starts on new Big C centre

By Dr Chris Bushby, Big C
Building and renovation work has started on a new cancer support centre for Big C situated in Dereham Road, Norwich, which when completed will service the Greater Norwich area with its population of over 380,000.

Published in Norfolk Director Magazine Autumn 2021
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Big C Charity

Designed by Norwich architects Purcell, and constructed by Drapers and Nichols, the new centre will deliver services to help those many local people who are unfortunately affected by cancer and is being consciously created in the heart of the community, at a distance from the hospital. The facility will complement Big C’s acute centre at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, from which for 14 years, our expert team has provided a bedrock of support, information, wellbeing therapies, tea, biscuits and a welcoming ear to many thousands of local people affected by cancer, often when they are attending hospital appointments or during cancer treatment.

Providing a crucial need

In addition to this, there is a crucial need to now provide the same level of support for those experiencing cancer and their families in the community. It will be a special place where those with a cancer diagnosis and their families can continue to access support away from a clinical environment.

Our focus is on the welfare and wellbeing of those affected by cancer and the new building will house a light, calming central seating area, private rooms for one-to-one counselling, a bright space for group activities and a sensory well-being garden. Once it is open there will be services including counselling, support groups, complementary therapies, time with Big C’s registered nurses, bereavement and palliative care support, welfare advice, headwear options and a cancer library.

All Big C services are accessible for patients, carers, family, friends and are free of charge.

Due to earlier diagnosis and improved treatments, many more people are living with or beyond cancer and benefit greatly from the emotional and practical support that Big C can provide. With a six month build plan, we hope everything will be completed in early 2022.

The Nearer to Home Appeal

In 2019, Big C launched their Nearer to Home Appeal and to date £590,000 has been raised and donated for the new centre by local supporters, businesses, trusts and foundations. As work commences to re-purpose the building at the site of the centre in Dereham Road, Big C is relaunching their appeal to raise a further £200,000 which is needed to complete the building and furnish the centre to the point it becomes operational.

David Moar MBE, founder of Big C, spoke at a ceremony to mark the start of building works and said he was eternally grateful for the community’s support over the last 42 years since Big C began, including raising over £500,000 towards the new centre.

He said: “It was a cold February afternoon looking out the window at Charing Cross Hospital where we had to come for treatment as it was not available in Norfolk. I’m pleased to say it’s available now. I made a throwaway remark to a fellow patient that ‘we ought to do something about this’ and it resulted in Big C, 42 years ago. It seems a lifetime.”

The ceremony on Wednesday 14th July was attended by the lord mayor of Norwich, Kevin Maguire, and the sheriff of Norwich, Caroline Jarrold. Kevin spoke movingly of his late wife, Liz Maguire, who was diagnosed with cancer and said if the centre had existed then it would have been well used.

Carole Slaughter is our Head of Fundraising at Big C and is thankful to everyone for the generosity shown to help Big C. She said: “Despite the enormous challenges for everyone over the past couple of years, considerable funds have been raised for this new centre. Norfolk and Suffolk are full of amazingly giving people and companies”.

Reopening of Big C centres

Another piece of news is that Big C’s Support and Information centres in the grounds of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and in Great Yarmouth have reopened on an appointment only basis.

The centres had been closed since the charity moved to deliver its services online and over the telephone from early in the pandemic, but as Dr Melanie Pascale, Director of Charitable Operations at Big C explained, we are now open once again for face-to-face support. She said: “This is a fundamental aspect of our charity and one we know our service-users and staff have missed. By opening on an appointment-only basis to begin with, we can control numbers within the setting.

“We must be aware that Covid is still circulating in the community and our priority is to ensure the safety of patients with a cancer diagnosis, their loved ones, volunteers and staff. Our teams will continue to wear the appropriate PPE and comply fully with infection prevention and control measures. We would respectfully ask anyone attending the centres to socially distance, and to continue to wear face coverings, unless exempt on medical grounds.”

Patients with a cancer diagnosis and their families will be able to meet with Big C’s professional nursing and information support staff for care and conversation, counselling, complementary therapies, welfare advice and family support.

The Great Yarmouth Support and Information Centre has opened in its new location for the first time. The new ground-floor centre at 25 Regent Street, Great Yarmouth, NR30 1RL, provides excellent accessibility in a modern welcoming space.

The Big C Kings Lynn Support and Information Centre is also relocating and is due to reopen in the coming weeks.

 

Dr Chris Bushby is Chief Executive at Big C. which is continually raising more to fund the work to complete the project and kindly asking its supporters for one last push to help them achieve that important goal for our region. For more information or to donate please visit nearertohome.co.uk

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