Drop-in Cancer Cafe in Margate to reopen this November

Graeme Sergeant (centre) with Andy Thompson. Trustee, Janet Baker, Age Concern, Katherine Shonk and Katherine Manser, social prescribers

A monthly cancer café is to re-open in Margate on November 11.

East Kent Cancer Café, headed by Graeme Sergeant, has teamed up with Katherine Manser, Katherine Shonk, Janet Baker of Age Concern, Claire Burgess of Age UK, Margate Freemasons and Thanet Health CIC,to provide the once a month drop in centres in Margate and other east Kent areas for persons who have undergone cancer treatment.

The aim is to provide support, advice and any help required while also giving people the chance to have a cuppa and a chat with others in the same circumstances.

The Thanet drop-in will be held at Margate Masonic Centre in New Cross Street.

The cafes were set up before covid hit in 2020 but were unable to run during the pandemic.

A fundraiser has now brought in £1792 to help with running costs, with each café  needing around £600 per year.

Graeme began the scheme after his wife Leigh was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer around three years ago.

He said: “With the NHS there is only treatment, not after-care. We started giving gift-bags to chemotherapy patients. In east Kent about 40 people per week start chemo treatment.

“We soon realised people needed somewhere to go, It is based on the Maggie centres in Scotland, people can just drop in and have a chat and a cup of tea.

“Cancer affects people in different ways. Treatments leaves some people wanting to really take on life whereas others do not want to.

“The idea was to have places across east Kent where people can chat, get advice or just read a paper or play games.”

Graeme says the hope is to provide a p[ermanent centre in Thanet and the hunt is on for a property to base it in.

Money is raised through the production of Millwall Supporters Club programmes and fundraising.

Graeme said: “People have been very good, the Masocic Centre has been available to use free of charge.

“But we plan to increase from once a month to five days a week so want to find one or two sites.”

There is assistance from Kent Community Health Trust, which provides space at Deal and Herne Bay hospitals, Age UK and Thanet Health CIC.

Graeme says not everyone realises the massive impact cancer has on sufferers and their loved ones.

He said: “Leigh had chemo and she is a four year survivor but the treatment has left her with a stoma and in constant pain. Until it affects you or someone in your family you always think that it is something that happens to the person next door.

“That’s why we are trying to provide after-care for people. All our money comes from the programmes and donations. If someone donates £1 I do not want to waste any of that on admin or other costs. Just before the pandemic we had set eyes on a site in Canterbury but now there are two in Thanet we are interested.”

The cancer café drop in at Margate’s Masonic Centre runs from 10am to 1pm on November 11.

To find out more email [email protected]

Find the fundraising page here