elspeth Salter, the new head of our Maggie’s centre, is delighted to be working “back home” in Fife.
After five years working as a clinical psychologist at the Maggie’s centre in Edinburgh, Elspeth (54), who lives in Ceres and worked with the NHS in Fife for many years, is taking on a new dual role – combining the post of centre head with her clinical psychologist expertise.
And she is relishing the challenge of “building on the solid foundation of the work already done” by her predecessor Ruth McCabe who retired just before Christmas, and all the staff and volunteers at Maggie’s Fife.
“The centre here is brilliant and there is already a really good programme of support for people experiencing cancer, so keeping that secure and building for the future, when many more services are going to be based on the Victoria Hospital site, will be my key aims,” she explained.
“With all the new hospital developments I would like for more people to know what we do here and to come through the door and see for themselves what a welcoming place this is.”
She is not new to the centre, having toured the building when it was still a shell as a member of the NHS Fife staff before it opened to the public.
And, in her role with the Maggie’s centre in Edinburgh the paths of the two centres often crossed, with many Fife people coming to the Western General for treatment, and their family or friends, popping into the centre while they were there.
“As with every Maggie’s, the kitchen table is the hub of the centre,” she explained. “It’s a safe place where people can sit and gather their thoughts over a cup of tea, chat to others going through a similar experience or speak to someone who can answer any questions they may have.
“At a time when they are going through something which can be traumatic and very strange to them, the kitchen table is something familiar and reassuring to them.”
Elspeth said that the variety of courses offered to people experiencing cancer and their families, including creative writing, art therapy, tai chi and relaxation, were largely the same, but their frequency differed according to popularity.
“Here in Fife the tai chi classes are particularly popular and they are held three times a week, whereas in Edinburgh they are once a week.
“I want to let more people know about our ‘Getting Started’ course which can help them cope with a diagnosis of cancer and take an active role in dealing with their emotions and treatment. Likewise I think more people should know more about the benefits that are available to them, because if they are undergoing lengthy treatment they may have to take time off work which can reduce their income, and that can be particularly difficult in these financial times.”
“The centre has tremendous support from the local community which has really got behind us, and that is a wonderful thing.
“We have great volunteers and fundraisers who do a brilliant job, and I am really looking forward to getting to know everyone and getting stuck into my new role here.”