Professor Sir Kenneth Calman Visits The Calman Centre

We were delighted that Professor Sir Kenneth Calman and his family recently visited us at The Calman Centre. Our Interim CEO Michael MacLennan interviewed Sir Kenneth to discuss the motivations of how the charity started and Sir Kenneth’s hopes for the future.

Cancer Support Scotland have been the wellbeing champions for those affected by cancer for over 40 years – not only for those diagnosed, but their loved ones and carers too. The charity delivers high-quality counselling, complementary therapy, and stress management services to promote mental and physical wellbeing and to enable those affected by cancer to continue to live the most active life possible in their community.

Founded by Sir Kenneth Calman in 1980, Cancer Support Scotland is a Scottish Charity dedicated to supporting people affected by cancer. Cancer Support Scotland is based in the grounds of Gartnavel Hospital, Glasgow, and also has support groups throughout west central Scotland. Cancer Support Scotland, formerly known as “Tak Tent” – an old Scots phrase meaning “Take Care”, is helping an increasing number of people deal with cancer.

As the charity was originally started as a support group, initially in Sir Kenneth’s living room, they still pride themselves on offering a drop-in centre for anyone affected by cancer, with free tea, coffee, cakes and WI-FI. This provides a group setting for those affected by cancer to come together, defeat loneliness and remain resilient, while encouraging individuals to champion their experiences to help others. This creates greater awareness of the cancer journey and ensures a better quality of public services.

When Sir Kenneth was appointed Professor of Oncology in 1974, aged just 32, he noticed that there was an obvious gap for much needed wellbeing support for not only those with cancer, but their loved ones too. At the time there was no resources available within the NHS to facilitate the idea of a support group, so the Calman family invited people into their own home, so they could learn & listen to what really was important to people during their illness. As the group grew, they moved on to meeting at Gartnavel General Hospital, the support group met in a cupboard which has just enough room for the group to sit and have enough privacy to discuss.

“People affected by cancer knew more than I did, I wanted to learn from them”

Following the successful set up for this cancer support group, several smaller groups were implemented across the West of Scotland who met in each other’s homes and local hospitals and “Tak Tent” was born. These groups offered a much-needed person centred approach, “What this allowed me to do, was to understand Cancer, in a way I hadn’t understood it before. It was wonderful to see how much people could contribute” Sir Kenneth told us.

Reflecting on the history of the charity, which is now known as Cancer Support Scotland, Sir Kenneth said “It feels amazing to be here, particularly when the charity has been going now for 40 or so years and seeing it still thriving and in this beautiful building. The staff here work so closely as a team. And we are changing things, using new techniques that we didn’t have before. Its nice to see how things are progressing and developing”. Cancer Support Scotland has developed its remit by a considerable amount over the years, now also with the ability to provide virtual support to people all over the country in the comfort of their own homes. Sir Kenneth, said he understood the need for the use of technology as the years pass, but they overarching aim of the organisation remains the same “It’s about helping others and I am sure in the next 40 years we will see that continue to develop, supporting people in a range of ways, that’s right for them”.

You can watch the full Interview with Professor Sir Kenneth Calman & Cancer Support Scotland’s Interim CEO, Michael MacLennan here:

Get in touch