Local people affected by a diagnosis of cancer or other life threatening conditions will be receiving 114 extra counselling sessions, thanks to a £5,000 donation to Frome-based counselling charity We Hear You (WHY) from Somerset Freemasons.
Around 10,000 people are diagnosed with cancer across Somerset, BANES and Wiltshire every year and one in four will die from the disease. We Hear You supports people from age 4 upwards who are affected by cancer or another life threatening condition, either as a patient, carer, friend, colleague or family member.
WHY (then called Positive Action on Cancer) was founded by Jill Miller in 1994 as a telephone helpline for women with breast cancer. This followed Jill’s own experience of breast cancer and her discovery of the lack of emotional support available to patients at the time. The charity has grown steadily and now offers face-to-face counselling to over 95 people per week. Referrals to We Hear You’s counselling service saw a 21% increase in 2017 and have more than doubled in the last five years.
The grant from Somerset Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Ben Manning, who used We Hear You’s counselling service aged 17 when coping with the death of his father from cancer, said:
‘I was at college and really struggling. College asked if I would like some support through WHY. I was quite dubious at first but then felt that if anything could help it was worth a go. I was also worried what people would think, as there is a stigma with young people and mental health. But after one session I felt like a weight had been lifted. If a young person is offered counselling through WHY, definitely take it, it’s such a valuable resource. You know it’s confidential and knowing they are there to help is really reassuring.’
Fundraising and Communications Manager Gemma Wilkes, said:
‘We’d like to say a huge thank you to Somerset Freemasons for this very generous donation. Demand for the help we offer has never been higher and as we approach our 25th anniversary in 2019 and look to further expand our service, gifts like this one demonstrate a vote of confidence in WHY as well as vital funds to help us achieve our aims.’
David Maddern, Provincial Grand Charity Steward for Somerset, said:
‘We’re very pleased to be able to help We Hear You with their excellent work. People affected by cancer or other life-threatening diagnoses, can find the services of a trained counsellor to be an enormous relief at a time of great stress.’
David was a guest on Frome FM’s ‘All About Frome’ on Tuesday 17th July in conversation with Ben Manning and WHY’s fundraising officer Helen Sprawson-White. The show can be heard on the website at http://frome.fm/programmes/talk/all-about-frome/.
(PHOTO: David Maddern on the Left, Provincial Grand Charity Steward for Somerset
Richard Dredge Second Right , Secretary of the Royal Somerset Lodge in Frome )