Penny Brohn UK

Help change life with cancer. For good

Cedar Garden Sessions: Allon Stokes

Another month on, and can you believe we’re already at the August edition of Cedar Garden Sessions? As always, Hannah, Digital and Web Manager, interviews a member of the Penny Brohn UK team to find out more about them and the work they do behind the scenes to keep our services up and running.

This month, Hannah speaks with Allon Stokes, one of Penny Brohn UK’s brilliant counsellors.

Thanks for joining me in the Cedar Garden today Allon. What a beautiful day it is!

No problem. It is nice to be outside for a bit.

So tell me, how did you come to work for Penny Brohn UK?

I came here briefly as a client in 2012; although it wasn’t what I needed at the time I was bowled over by what was offered and just the feel of the place. When I heard that a counselling post was being advertised I immediately applied. I think I nearly disgraced myself in the interview, I didn’t quite get on my hands and knees to beg for the job, but it wasn’t far off!

I can relate to the desperation of wanting a job here too – so there is no shame there! [laughs]

Oh good [laughs]

So, what exactly does your role of counsellor involve here at Penny Brohn?

Well, I spend some time ‘managing’ the counselling service; triaging clients on the waiting list, responding to emails from colleagues, attending the MDT and the other admin aspects of the role. On Fridays I spend the day counselling clients. Each of the counsellors (Alison, Katy, Nicola and myself) sees 5 clients in their working day here.

That sounds like quite a lot of people to see in one day. It must be quite challenging at times. 

It can be, yes. But it can also be very rewarding, knowing that we are able to help someone cope with their cancer experience. It’s such a privilege to be part of client’s journey and to witness some amazing changes and transformations they go through.

What is the most rewarding thing you are working on at the moment?

I am really pleased to be part of the new Multi-disciplinary team that has been set up. It means all the client-facing services are working together to come up with a co-ordinated plan for some of the more complex needs that we see here. It’s great to see the benefit to our clients from the whole person aspect of our work.

That sounds like fantastic progression. So what would you say is your favourite part of the job?

Easy, seeing clients! I feel really lucky to be working in a role I love. It is incredibly humbling to be told things that a client may be unable or unwilling to say to loved ones. Perhaps the most moving work can be supporting people in coming to terms with an incurable prognosis and how they can take control and live as well as possible with that.

That’s wonderful. It must be really fantastic to know that you are making a difference to their lives and making a positive impact on their wellbeing. Is there a moment that stands out to you as a particular highlight of your time at Penny Brohn so far?

It was probably completing the London-Paris bike ride last year and hitting my fundraising target.

Yes! You did fantastically!

[Laughs] Thanks! It was nice to prove my slightly knackered body could still be pushed and achieve things, plus it meant so much more to be doing it for a cause I really believe in.

Yeah, that must have been an incredible feeling. We couldn’t help so many people if we didn’t have amazing advocates like yourself, so thank you for all your hard work… So, finally, we’re at the end of our chat and I have one more question; what is your favourite dunkable biscuit?

Controversial here, I’m not really a biscuit person.

Oh! We’ve had a few people opt-out of the biscuit debacle.

Ah I’m not alone then [laughs]… I would happily eat my own body weight in kettle crisps though!

A great substitute! 

Well it was fab to hear about Allon’s experience of Penny Brohn, despite the fact that the leader board has been thrown completely out the window with kettle crisps! 

We’ll be back here with another member of the Penny Brohn team next month. So keep an eye out for the next Cedar Garden Sessions.

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