Since the soft launch of our free calls/txts/data service for people affected by cancer several months ago, we established quickly that it’s popularity demanded that it had it’s own platform. So we have been working on a new site, Twitter, Facebook etc, to enable people to see clearly what we do and how they can support us. When I was initially approached with this idea, there were two very definite requirements I had. The first one was that it wasn’t duplicating anything else that is being done already, and secondly that it fitted with the ‘transparency’ of my own ‘brand.’ There is very definitely no service out there that is doing what we are, and working in a ‘no strings attached way.’
As all referrals for the service come to me, I can see the impact we are making in the lives of families affected by cancer. My own experiences of cancer have taught me the incredible value of time, and much as I appreciate the need for long term planning, my joy is in the short term where I can see the tangible impact of my work. Poverty is a big issue in this country, without adding the financial problems that a cancer diagnosis can bring. We at #simPal want to do something about that now, and we can! But one of the biggest hurdles we face is scepticism. ” What catches are there? What’s in it for you? How do you make money? What catches are there for the people that use this service? We already have our own charity, it is very difficult to work with others,” etc, etc. In defence I would probably be asking the same things! It seems natural to look for a catch in everything we do.
I have had some incredible conversations with several heads of healthcare organisations who want to collaborate with us and share the service with their users. Each wanted to know the detail of course, but I summed up each chat with “there simply are no catches!” No contracts to sign, no future obligations, if you like our service you can continue with us after the agreed free term, and if you don’t you simply discontinue. We only want to improve the lives of people affected by cancer. By combining my cancer knowledge and experiences with the resources of a mobile phone organisation we have all the ingredients we need. Every penny that is kindly donated gets recycled into the service.
My recent charity experiences have shown me at closer quarters how incredible the politics can be. What always makes me smile about this situation is that all healthcare organisations are shouting long and hard for money. But other than if you want to make a donation, in which case they are all over you like a rash, communication can be very poor. Bearing in mind I offer services which are totally free, and with no commitments, in many cases I have had no response from my initial contact. And on other occasions despite many polite conversations I have been led down a ‘corporate maze’ to an eventual dead end!
None of which either surprised or discouraged me, it was more a feeling of frustration/disappointment. That the people who are there to help people affected by cancer are rarely open to new ideas and collaborations. More than that, are not even interested in sharing the resource information with their patients. Of course it would help if people were signposted to our services, we would be able to help people a lot quicker! But the healthcare world does not seem to function with the patient at it’s heart. Currently I have some wonderful collaborations where relationships have been established over many years, but the larger organisations seem to struggle with that principle.
But all is not lost for us individuals who also want to help people affected by cancer. There is a type of cure for this problem, and it’s called the Internet! No longer do we have to be lost, in a mountain of emails or wait for an appointment that no one ever responds to. No, we don’t have expensive marketing teams but we can certainly make some noise! Of course it will take us longer but we will still reach the people that need us most. Who wouldn’t want to tell their friends about free phone bills for people affected by cancer? Still a lot of people don’t believe it but it’s true! Of course everyone would benefit if this information was shared but….
Ironically, the interest in our work in the corporate world is incredible, with everyone looking to see how they can help us and get involved, either by donating or on a ‘pro bono’ basis. We have a flood of patients/organisations in America that want to benefit from our service too. That quite clearly shows me how we are drastically lagging behind much of the western world in our ways of working. The world is changing rapidly now and we cannot continue with our old methods in cancer support. Corporations are learning to adapt but I don’t see that hunger for innovation in the sector here.
The only way for us to improve the support we offer is to be much more open and forward facing, and embrace collaboration not encourage competition. After all don’t we all want the same thing? Over the years, like everyone else I have encountered so many extreme emotions, but none like I am enjoying now. That feeling of giving is incredible! Watch out for us at #simPal we will be helping as many people as we can!!! Please check out our new site for more info and to apply for support.
As always please feel free to share your own views and experiences in the box below.