Friday, March 30, marked the grand opening of Cancer Warriors’ first ever permanent drop-in Information and Support Centre. The centre is located at Melbourne Street, Stalybridge.

This is a dream and vision the chair and founder Derrick John Evans thought he would never see come true, having fought his own battles with cancer since 2007.

Three times survivor of stage 4 Lymphoma Derrick began his battle against the disease on August 17, 2007 and after surviving his first round he began campaigning and fundraising for the Christies and Macmillan in the form of Derk’s Army.

From there Derrick’s dreams and visions grew and following his latest battle in 2012, having been told he had only eight weeks to live, Derrick vowed that if he survived a stem cell transplant he needed, he would find a way to support others and their families the way he would have liked to have been during his journey.

He knew that services are stretched within the NHS and supporting sectors, therefore when transforming Derk’s Army into the Cancer Warriors we know today in March 2016, he wanted to provide a non-referred, non-clinical support service accessed by anyone affected with cancer, their families, friends and carers, a service run solely by unpaid volunteers who have in some way experienced the effects of cancer.

After achieving charity status on March 3, 2016, Derrick and a dedicated team of volunteers began the outreach community drop-in’s they have today at the Highfield Pavilion in Stamford Park, Reclamation Rooms in Saddleworth and the Grafton Centre in Hyde.

These sessions provide a coffee morning environment that encourages people to come and talk about their experiences, share information and hope to others, gain peer to peer support and much, much, more.

This wasn’t enough for Derrick.

He still wanted to be able to reach more people on a more permanent basis and was determined despite people saying it would never happen without salaried staff, to create a centre for anyone.

Through his drive, determination and true inspiration he guided the team in working towards a centre and two years later, almost to the day, he has now achieved this.

The centre offers residents of Tameside, Oldham and beyond somewhere to come and have a chat over coffee and cake in non-clinical, friendly and a welcoming atmosphere.

The centre provides peer to peer support, information, therapies, private consultations and more.

The centre is run solely by volunteers who have either been on their own journey or have cared for a loved one, that have an understanding and empathy for those walking through the door.

They have trained therapists, counsellors and outreach support staff donating their time to those who need it.

There has been massive support for the centre, no more so than from MP for Stalybridge and Hyde Jonathan Reynolds, who helped the team open their first drop in with Stamford Park and again at the opening of the Centre.

Jonathan said: “In the eight years since I was selected to represent this seat I have met thousands of people and Cancer Warriors has made a particularly strong impression on me.

“I have had many chats with Derrick and what he has done is fantastic.

“The support Cancer Warriors is offering cancer sufferers is brilliant and they are so optimistic and willing to make a difference. It’s truly a special thing.”

Cancer Warriors have the support of Macmillan and The Christie, who can’t get over what the charity are able to do and are referring patients at every opportunity.

Derrick added in his opening speech that it has been an emotional roller coaster and he has an amazing team behind him.

The centre has come together on good will, a shoe string and generosity to ensure that the monies the charity has will be ploughed right back into providing the services, therapies and support to the community.

The centre is open Monday to Friday 10am-2pm and will gradually expand to meet the needs of its users and in time will include evening and weekend availability.

If you would like any further information, or would like to volunteer some time, please contact the team on: 0161 338 5010 or alternatively via the website www.cancerwarriors.co.uk                                                        or email them on: cancerwarriors@mail.com, FB: cancer warriors uk Twitter @warriorscancer.