Knit one-then knit another!

Staff from libraries at Monmouth, Chepstow, Usk and Gilwern have been adding their skills to those of the Caldicot Library ‘knit and natter’ group to make items to help people who are undergoing chemotherapy.

Often people who are having treatment for cancer really do feel the cold and it is important that they stay as well as possible, which means keeping warm.

The team of knitters and crotcheters have made hundreds of brightly coloured squares which are being turned into rugs by Erica Sheppard the Macmillan in Monmouthshire Coordinator.

The rugs along with shawls and hats that the clever ladies and gents have made, will be taken to the chemotherapy unit at Nevill Hall Hospital to be given out to anyone who would like to accept one of the woolly creations.

Most of the wool was donated by someone who is herself undergoing treatment for cancer along with wool that the knitters themselves have donated.

Staff say it is very relaxing to knit or crochet items and be part of this fun project which is growing by the day.

Erica Sheppard said, “Each time I visit a library to hold a Macmillan ‘drop in’ information session or run a group I am handed a pile of woolly squares that a library user has made. They find out about the project from staff and are thrilled to be able to join in. Even my husband has agreed to help me sew together all the squares. It’s great how everyone has rallied to the cause to support people affected by cancer.”

For more information about the Macmillan in Monmouthshire Cancer Support & Information Service or about the knitting project or to donate wool, please ask in your local library or email Erica at


Macmillan in Monmouthshire Libraries, Project Update February 2012



The aim of the service is to provide good quality information in a variety of formats for people affected by cancer in libraries across Monmouthshire, which are friendly, non-threatening environments located in the heart of the local community.

The project is now in its eighth month of providing support and information to people affected by cancer and this update highlights the progress.

All libraries have a selection of free Macmillan booklets and CD’s which are available for the public to take away.

This information comprises a directory of all cancer related material, a selection from the top ten list of Macmillan material, with such titles as The Cancer Guide, Coping with the Cost of Cancer, Understanding Chemotherapy and a range on specific cancer types.

Chepstow has a brand new shelf unit which has been installed with funding from Macmillan as part of the development of information areas in all libraries. So far the titles which have been taken from Chepstow are Understanding Chemotherapy; Understanding Radiotherapy; Understanding the PSA test; Men and Cancer.

Abergavenny is to be the main ‘hub’ of information and support with a mini ‘hub’ at Caldicot, wall displays at Monmouth and Gilwern and a new shelf unit for Usk. All of these areas should be in place and stocked with information by the end of March. Alongside the Macmillan information we are providing leaflets from Cancer Research UK, Breast Cancer Care, WAG Health Promotion Libraries, Carers Usk and Age Cymru to demonstrate the range of information and support available to people at all stages of their cancer journey. We are aiming to have a small promotional event in March to ‘launch’ the new areas followed by two larger events in July, to mark one year of the project.

Inmates of the two prisons of Usk and Prescoed now have permission to call the Macmillan Support Line and soon a range of cancer related material will be available in the libraries. We are also in the process of working out how ‘drop in’ sessions might work there and are exploring the possibility of shared reading groups.

The MSIC has also been invited to provide information at a forthcoming health ‘market’ event at Usk Prison.

Nevill Hall Hospital has a new shelf unit in the Oncology Department which carries a range of cancer related information and it has been possible to develop networks which may help initiate referrals to the library service.

The ‘drop in’ information sessions are scheduled in each library and people are coming along. It is a slow process to build this up, which we know from our partnership work with the other Macmillan library projects in South East Wales, and one which requires constant promotion. The project is always looking for new ways of getting the message across and staff have been asked to continue to talk about the service to library users and hand out service leaflets whenever possible. Staff have also been asked to complete a short questionnaire which will help to develop a baseline to measure the project and also to help identify training needs. This forms part of the development of a sustainable approach to maintaining information for people affected by cancer in libraries. An enquiry pathway has been made available to staff to help and support them with cancer related enquires.

In the next two months a timetable for the next quarter will be circulated and a programme of events to widen the scope of the service will be developed.

Shared reading is integral to this project as a way of providing events and activities for people who are living with cancer or who have finished their cancer treatment. They are seen as an opportunity to meet people, keep in touch, have fun and find ways of coping with the effects of cancer. A new shared reading group is set to start on 21st February at Caldicot library.

It is anticipated that over the next six months new ways of promoting the service will be developed and a series of other linked events will be planned by continuing to establish new networks and make local connections to promote this service as widely as possible around the county.

Erica Sheppard
Macmillan Monmouthshire Cancer Support & Information Co-ordinator

MacMillan Cancer Support

We have been successful in obtaining grant funding to provide a dedicated Cancer Support and Information Coordinator. Funded for three years, the post holder will work across the county in libraries, the prison and other venues to offer support to people affected by cancer, their carers and families.  He or she will be based in Abergavenny Library and will conduct private interviews, hold meetings and organise therapeutic reading and other groups in all of the county’s libraries.  He/she will also build a database of useful information and train library staff in dealing with health related enquiries.  This post has been warmly welcomed by local residents who have been affected by cancer as they know from personal experience how much difference this kind of service could make to fellow sufferers.