A Whitley Bay woman is leading a brand new cancer care Centre to success just months after it opened its doors.
Maggies North East is based in Newcastle, near to the Freeman Hospital, and opened up in May 2013.
It had a target of seeing more than 4,500 people come through the door up to the turn of the year.
But the popularity of the place has saw that figure be more than doubled, hitting close to ten thousand visitors come January 2014.
Karen Verrill, of Whitley Bay is the Centre Head and talked about the success of the new facility, and what exactly it offers.
“I’m absolutely amazed at how many people come through,” she said.
“I wanted to get busy quickly and knew the Centre was needed. People were waiting for it and it fulfills a need that wasn’t there.”
Based in the grounds of the Freeman Hospital, Maggies is a two story building that invites cancer patients, current or recovered, and their families to drop in and visit.
It gives them a chance to speak to specialist nurses, psychologists, get benfefit advice and chat to other visitors and share experiences and advice through each others cancer journey.
Karen added: “We have daily drop in sessions for people who have or have had cancer and they can come along and talk about a clinical problem they have had, talk about how they are feeling, or just sit in one of the quiet rooms and talk to no one, it’s up to them.
“Sometimes if patients have a few hours between appointments at the hospital they can come in here and we have a library and computers they can use.”
At the heart of the Centre is a huge kitchen table where many people sit around and chat over a cup of tea or coffee, and there are also two roof terraces and a garden which were popular in the summer months.
Another room in the centre caters for a number of activities, including Thai Chai and Yoga and various support groups.
Karen said: “It does not matter where the cancer is, the people who come in here have a support network where they can talk to staff and volunteers who can empathise.
“Cancer is cancer, its devastating and life changing, but people can come in here and meet others and they end up having a laugh, and that’s what this place is about.”
Brendan Nolan is from Tynemouth and is being treated for prostate Cancer and visits the centre around twice a week after hearing about it from the hospital.
He said: “It has helped me during my treatment because you meet other people who have similar problems, but you also meet people who have more serious problems than me and it makes you think what you have been through is a walk in the park.
“It’s easier to talk to people when you know they understand what you mean, it’s been a great benefit.”
The nine month old centre is expecting thousands of more visitors through the doors during 2014, and encourages people and businesses to help them by fundraising doing a range of activities from head shaves to hikes.
Centre Fundraising Manager Kelly Knighting-Wykes said: “We are trying to get everybody to hold a party for Maggies in May, but they can do anything they want to raise money like non-uniform days or take part in any of our running events.
“There is also the opportunity to sponsor a day at Maggies, whether it be a business doing it in memory of a colleague or a group of fundraisers coming in for the day. There are lots of things people can do.”
To find out more about Maggies or to get involved in Fundraising visit www.maggiescentres.org.uk/newcastle