I am delighted to report that our Association is healthy and steadily growing, with 24 trained Active Listeners (ALs) supporting 42 clients. Increasing numbers of clients from Provence are asking for our help, so efforts to recruit and train ALs from that area have continued over the past year. Newly-established relationships with Anglophone groups, including the international Bilingual School in Aix, form an important part of those efforts. Our clients, ALs and members are more diverse in terms of age and nationality than most other CSF Associations, which gives us a strength and growth unique in CSF. In response, our Client Support team has worked unbelievably hard to review and strengthen our training and bring in new structures to manage and support our team of Active Listeners.

Drop In Days have continued throughout the year in Mons and are well supported by both clients and volunteers. Everyone is welcome at Drop In – members, those who would like to know about the services we provide, and anyone touched by cancer who might need our help. We plan to establish a second Drop-In in Provence as soon as we have sufficient numbers there.

Thanks to the considerable efforts of our PR team, links with French healthcare bodies and La Ligue Contre le Cancer are becoming well established. This gives us full access to the various hospitals and clinics and to La Ligue’s facilities and network of supporters.

Read about the Awareness and Fundraising events we have held this year below. We are always looking for people to help arrange or support our activities, so please let me know if you have any ideas for future fundraising, or if helping with an event is something you could do.

It is you, our Members and Supporters, who ensure we can continue to give the very best care and support to our clients, many of them going through the most difficult time of their lives. I recently received a letter from one our clients, who has been receiving full support from a team of four Active Listeners for almost two years. With his permission I include his moving message – his words say it all. It is your ongoing support of our Association that makes it possible for us to provide the level of help he has needed.

I extend to you and your families every good wish for Christmas and the New Year.

Tim Forster

THOUGHTS FROM A CLIENT

PUBLICITY, EVENTS AND FUNDRAISING

March and May this year saw Josephine Larter’s two wonderful concerts, ‘Seasons’ in St Siffret and Vaison la Romaine. All the performers complemented each other perfectly, putting on a show of professional artistry and great entertainment.

In October we held our first Treasure Hunt. Tim Styles and Roger Ordish devised a very interesting and entertaining trip around the Uzège. A great day was had by all.

Much fun was had at our early spring quiz night run by Roger – without too many arguments!

Our AGM event in April caused a stir with our President disappearing in a big red ambulance having had a temporary amnesia episode. He is absolutely fine with no after effects and thanks everyone for their concern. The Pop up Cafe, even without him, was a great success. Thanks to Sue Critchley for putting this and all the Drop In days together.

In the wonderful ‘Grange’ loaned by M and Mme Roux and with the generous support of “BydeBo “ and its brother shop “Next Door” in Uzès, our super models demonstrated a fantastic selection of ladies’ and men’s clothes. Superbly organised by Susie, who also produced the delicious finger food, the show was compèred with style by Roger Ordish. The wonderful Reinout played music throughout and it was just a perfect entertaining evening. Star of the Show was undoubtably the gorgeous labradoodle guide dog, Luna, in her pink tutu.

GETTING OUR MESSAGE ACROSS

The PR team has been very busy working to the plan produced by Jacques at the start of the year, resulting in increased cooperation with La Ligue across our area. Joint events are currently being planned for the future. The establishment of good relationships with the Anglo American Group Provence and Association Culturelle Franco Britannique in Carpentras is an important aspect of our development into the Provence area. where several of our clients are being supported. Building relationships with various other groups has resulted in the recruitment of several volunteers, including all-important trained Active Listeners. Plans for our first fundraising event are progressing well. We have developed an excellent contact with the International Bilingual School in Aix and have hopes that the students will run at least one event for us. Britsnimes and St Michael’s Church in the Gard continue to be important supporters of our work.
On the publicity front, our Facebook page is now active but not yet finished . Expertise in social media would be very welcome! Le Républicain, the Provence Sun, Connexion and Languedoc Living continue to support us through excellent coverage of all our events.

Dates for the Diary

January 21, Quiz, Salle Polyvalente, Foissac.
Spring 2019, Concerts in Bagnols-sur-Cèze and Vaison la Romaine June, Auction of Promises with lunch/dinner.
Autumn 2019, Joint Cycling Event with La Ligue, Gard
Autumn Fashion show.

Supporting Clients – First and Foremost

CSFPG exists for one reason only – to give real help and support, free of charge, in English to anyone who is touched by the awfulness of cancer. Having the support of a team of Active Listeners makes all the difference imaginable to our clients, whether they be the patient, their partner, carer or family. The scope of that help is considerable – giving emotional support, practical help, accompanying clients to medical consultations, sorting out problems to do with health care, translation or giving of reliable information – and often starts at diagnosis and continues for as long as support is needed. But mostly we listen – and help people come to their own decisions on how they wish to live through their cancer journey, without ever be- ing judgmental or telling them what to do.

Of over-riding concern is our ability to provide the best support to an increasing number of clients, This number can only continue to increase as our PR and publicity machine gets into top gear. It is important that we continually assess our AL numbers and geographical spread of clients, so currently we are holding 3 training courses each year to ensure we have enough Active Listeners to support a growing number of clients.

Over the past year we have been asked on several occasions by CSF National if we will offer support to people outside our area where no other CSF Association exists. We believe wholeheartedly that no-one who asks for help should be turned away, so we are currently supporting 8 clients from the Var, as well as others from Alpes de Haute Provence, Ardèche, and Drôme. With hospital consultations taking place as far apart as Toulon, Marseille, Avignon, Nîmes and Montpellier, our dedicated ALs are taking on some very lengthy travel commitments in support of their clients.

Highly Trained Active Listeners – Working Together in Teams

The training of our Active Listeners does not end once they have completed their Initial Training Course. It continues throughout the time they are working with clients through our 4 Study Days each year, which all our ALs are required to attend. Those training days allow us to learn from visiting speakers and give an opportunity to share experience and continue to develop their skills. Subjects covered this year include Nutrition in Cancer, the Psychology of Living with Cancer and Bereavement. Invitations are also extended to CSF Languedoc to join us to obtain maximum benefit from visiting speakers.

Uniquely within CSF, we believe firmly that supporting a client with a team best for both client and our hard-working Active Listeners. It ensures continuity of care for the client and a sharing of the load for ALs. With an experienced AL heading the team, it gives newly-trained ALs the opportunity to learn and develop skills and confidence while well supported and cared for themselves.

Recognition and Respect from Medical Professionals

We are not Professionals as such, but the service we offer is highly professional and we abide by a strict Code of Conduct. Working closely as we do with medical teams in hospitals, residential care establishments, general practice and in client’s homes, we have come to be hugely respected for our professionalism. Medical teams value having us alongside their patients when language might be an issue, and their words of respect and thanks are uplifting to our hard-working ALs.

Sharing the Client Support Load

With 24 Active Listeners doing such a magnificent job in supporting over 40 clients, the role of Client Support Co-ordinator had become all-consuming. So we have made changes. Sue Critchley now oversees the welfare of Active Listeners, leaving more time for Pippa to concentrate on training and managing support for clients. Supporting a client is often difficult and emotionally challenging, so it is essential that our ALs are themselves well mentored and cared for. This new arrangement gives time for looking after the welfare of those amazing people who make possible all we do.

Drop in Days

First Monday of every month in Mons. Anyone touched by cancer is warmly welcome to this friendly informal day. Come and enjoy a day of normality away from the difficulties of living with cancer. Coffee, refreshments, a light lunch, guest speakers on an interesting variety of subjects, relaxing therapies, bridge – all available for the price of a contribution towards costs. Want to know more? Contact Sue Critchley on suec.csfprovencegard@gmail.com

We hope you have found this newsletter interesting. If you have any questions or would like to know more about volunteering please contact the President – Tim Forster:

tim.csfprovencegard@gmail.com
Tel 06 66 98 43 76