Marilyn Ferguson sees something very special happen during the workshops she runs in Portsmouth.
When the women being treated for cancer turn up at the Macmillan Centre, based at the city’s Queen Alexandra Hospital, they’re often feeling deflated and vulnerable.
But as their confidence gets a much-needed boost, Marilyn says she often begins to see their spirits lift.
She runs free skincare and make-up workshops for the cancer charity Look Good..Feel Better.
And for many of the women who attend it’s a chance to feel better about the way they look after chemotherapy and other cancer treatments have taken their toll.
‘The 12-step make-up programme gives helpful hints, tips and advice to help people overcome some of those fears like “I don’t know how to wear make-up” and it really helps them get to a place where they can look good and feel better during what is a very difficult time,’ explains Marilyn.
‘It helps regain some of their confidence and brings them together with camaraderie, so they don’t feel so alone, or isolated.’
The sessions in Portsmouth have proved so popular that Marilyn has now increased the number of workshops from one a month to two a month.
But in order to be able to continue offering the sessions, she needs more volunteers to come forward and help out.
The workshops take place on the third and fourth Tuesday of every month and four consultants look after no more than 12 patients at a time.
Women who want to attend already have around a three-month wait to get a place. But once they’ve been to that initial session they then receive four free beauty treatments at the centre.
‘We’re looking for consultants from cosmetic houses or with a background in beauty therapy who can help with the 12-step make up lessons,’ adds Marilyn.
‘Due to the demand of patients we’ve already increased the number of workshops and want to reach out to as many people as possible.’
Women can book themselves into a workshop by visiting the Macmillan Centre.
And for those who don’t feel ready to attend a public session there’s a confidence kit – available from the charity’s website lookgoodfeelbetter..co.uk – that can be used at home.
For Marilyn, the rewards of being involved are clear: ‘Sometimes there’s a lot of apprehension and nervousness because they are not sure what they are coming in to and then half-way through the lesson we’ll see an enormous difference,’ she explains.
Anyone interested in becoming a consultant can find out more by calling 01372 747500.