The CSFPG AGM was held m in March it was a great day with around 50 people attending and the excellent “cafe” event run by Pauline The report follows

Dear CSFPG Members and Friends

I am delighted to pass on to you the report I made to the CSFPG AGM.

Before I start, it is my sad duty to inform you that Linda Shepherd, the original founder of CSF lost her long battle with cancer and passed away.

Twenty months have passed since our foundation and I am delighted to report that the Association is in a very good place. Last March we had a little over thirty volunteers and were supporting nine clients with five Active Listeners (ALs). We were sufficiently solvent to work at that level but it was tight both in financial and client support terms.

How have we done? We have made steady progress in recruiting; we now have a solid base of between 40 and 50 active volunteers in Gard and a small but steadily increasing number in Provence. We also have around 100 supporters who are routinely kept abreast of our activities. More importantly, the word has spread and we have been approached by a large number of people across our area, indeed beyond, seeking help. To support them, our Client Support Coordinator has put in place an innovative and uniquely successful system.

Client Support

We started the year with 5 Active Listeners (ALs) but following a successful Initial Training Course (ITC) in June, 8 new ALs began working with clients. One has dropped out for medical reasons, leaving 12 currently working. A second ITC was held in March with 6 excellent candidates who will complete training at the Follow-Up Day on 21 April and will begin work straightaway with experienced ALs working in teams. This will give us a healthy 18 Active Listeners. Another ITC is arranged for June for volunteers from Vaucluse/Bouches du Rhone, and once these candidates are trained it will relieve the ALs based in the Gard from often lengthy journeys to the hospitals in Marseille etc., as well as being on hand to support clients from our Eastern boundaries.

This team is currently supporting 23 clients: – Gard – 13, Vaucluse – 3, Bouches du Rhone 4,
Var 1, Ardeche 1, Haute Alpes 1.

Establishing teams of Active Listeners to support clients is an innovation we have introduced in CSFPG, which has been adopted throughout many of the 15 CSF Associations. It is of vital Importance both for the client, to ensure continuation of support, and for the ALs, enabling them to share the load and to give those newly trained experience and confidence.

Active Listening is challenging and emotionally draining, so our ALs continue to receive all-important support through the buddying and mentor system. We are also committed to ensuring our ALs receive continuing care and support through any difficult times they may be going through.

Our ITC is based on the National training programme, but adapted to our own way of working. It is a more gentle approach, especially with self-assessment. However, it is a serious subject and the ITC is hard work and so making it accessible and fun is important. CSFPG recognizes the achievement of completing the Initial Training Course and follow-on work by holding a short presentation ceremony where the President hands out a certificate, name badge with blue ribbon and the AL Handbook.

It is important that all volunteers who have any contact with clients are fully briefed on such issues as confidentiality and boundaries. We are doing an awareness training day for active volunteers in the near future.

Our commitment to building teams starts from the moment someone expresses interest in becoming an Active Listener by including them in our on-going training days etc., so potential ALs can see at first hand how we work, whether it would be right for them, and whether they are right for us.

Alongside and part of direct support to our clients, are the extremely important monthly Drop In days. With an attendance of between 20 and 30, these are giving our clients the opportunity to relax and be supported in a safe and comforting environment. Our dedicated team of volunteers who support drop in do a stunning job, which is hugely appreciated by our clients.

At the AGM, I thanked Pippa for her unstinting and totally professional work as our Client Support Coordinator and also our amazing and loyal team of dedicated ALs and all those who support them. They are at the heart of what we do and they are doing it with professionalism and skill.

Events

Our events have three purposes: raising awareness, raising funds and, for volunteers and clients, having fun!

This past year we have had:

• The CSFPG Café with the AGM
• The amazing Fashion Show
• The Activity for life canoe run and walk around the Pont du gard
• The absolutely outstanding concert
• The very successful cheese wine and quiz evening which marked the end of the year

Our thanks particularly go to all the organisers who put in so much time and work and also to the helpers and volunteers who make these events such a success. There are too many to thank by name but your superb contribution is vital to our work and is much appreciated.

We have also had members participating in a sponsored run, we have participated in Brits Nimes events and of course we have a regular and solid income produced by the sale of all our surplus ‘stuff’ at brocantes. We have also benefitted from a series of generous donations, several in memory of clients who ended their journey. All of this has placed us on a comfortable financial footing and raised awareness of our work. There is more detail in the treasurer’s report which is attached. Could I commend our colourful and informative events and news page on the website.

www.csfprovencegard.com

We have a number of awareness and fundraising events planned this year. More detail later, but for your diaries:

Saturday 25 March – CSFPG Café – a great success which raised a little under €1000
Saturday 13 May – Piano recital in Goudargues using our old piano which now lives in Goudargues village hall.
Thursday 25 May – Fashion Show. Same venue and format as before.
Date to be confirmed in June – Concert in Aix by Ryan Stewart
Sunday 17 September – Activity for Life event, which again will be a canoe, ride and walk around Pont du Gard.

We will look at an appropriate seasonal event at the end of the year – suggestions please. Your ideas for events to raise awareness and funds will be more than welcome, particularly any opportunities in Bouches-du-Rhône or Vaucluse

Healthcare Liaison

I am delighted to report we now have formal conventions signed with Avignon and Bagnols hospitals and the important St Catherine’s Clinic in Avignon. We are close to agreeing a convention with Carémeau hospital in Nîmes, which includes the new Institut de Cancérologie (ICG), and with Alès hospital. Conventions allow us to work officially in medical establishments and to publicise our organisation.

The liaison team is now building links with the large medical establishment in Marseille. This team has also established a good relationship with La Ligue Contre le Cancer in both Alès and Bagnols. CSF as a whole now works in partnership with La Ligue, whose logo we display on our leaflets

We also have an excellent relationship with ‘3C’, who work across most cancer related establishments in Gard, ensuring that cancer patients are aware of the entire range of treatment and support available to them.

Public Relations

We have re-written our publicity material, which is available at all CSF functions and from all CSFPG council members. We are fortunate that Graham Means has taken over the PR coordinator role. He is focusing on building awareness in Provence. Graham is based in Bouches-du-Rhône. We are actively looking for someone to support him by liaising with English and French language media in Gard. Please contact me if you can help with this.

CSFPG Council

Following election at the 2017 AGM the CSFPG Council comprises

• President – Tim Forster
• Vice President – Aline Rideau
• Secretary – Meryl Duckhouse
• Treasurer – Michael Cowell
• Client Support Coordinator – Pippa Forster
• Healthcare Liaison – Alison Benjamin
• Public Relations – Graham Means

Finances

A Copy of our Annual Accounts is attached.

Future Priorities

Looking ahead, our priorities are to:

• grow in Provence
• forge links with all appropriate establishments and organisations
• extend the base of ALs towards the east of our area
• maintain and improve our recruitment and fundraising

To sum up, it has been a very good year. We are successfully fulfilling the aims of our constitution. Importantly, we are doing so with a fantastic and thoroughly well motivated team of Active Listeners and enthusiastic supporters. Our financial and volunteer resources are sufficient to meet our projected needs, but there is no room for complacency. Our feedback from clients is amazing and personally I gain huge satisfaction from hearing how vital is the support we provide.

Once again thank you for your continuing support for this really important work.

With all good wishes.

Tim Forster

President Cancer Support France Provence Gard
Email: tim.csfprovencegard@gmail.com
Website: www.csfprovencegard.com
Direct phone: