A brand new centre for people affected by cancer is open for business in Stornoway town centre – and open for a look around on Thursday (August 22nd).

The new headquarters of Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative (WICCI) is holding an open afternoon, where visitors can see the facilities and take advantage of drinks, nibbles and a warm welcome.

The office, at 87 Cromwell Street (next to the Kopi Java café) is a haven of light spaces, peaceful private rooms and delicious colours both bright and muted.

With an informal open drop-in space for group meetings and discussions, an office area, kitchen, private conversation room and space for one-to-one activities, it will offer lots of future opportunities for people who are having cancer treatment, or who have been affected in other ways by cancer.

The centre has already had its first use, with meetings of the new Hebridean Harmony choir – 20 people turned out to the two introductory singing for pleasure sessions, hosted by conductor Carole Miller. The choir will now meet each Monday at 2.30pm and on the first Thursday of every month at 7pm. They’re currently tackling warm-up exercises and working on a rendition of the popular anthem Stand By Me, but future possibilities could include public performances such as carol singing.

In the office, administrator Jennifer Mackenzie and development worker Helen Sandison will be administering the social fund, which has already allocated grants of £83,000 for 173 applicants undergoing cancer treatment.

The patient escort campaign is also co-ordinated from here, with WICCI having entered into constructive dialogue with NHS Western Isles, who’ve asked them to set up a patient escort panel alongside Neuro-Hebrides, Western Isles Carers Users and Supporters Network and the Hebridean Men’s Cancer Group.

Over the next months a host of new uses for the centre will be developed, including everything from arts and crafts activity to exercise and gentle movement sessions.

Thursday’s open afternoon is from 2-4pm and welcomes everyone, whether or not they have experienced cancer, to get an idea of what is on offer.

The pictures show Helen (left) and Jennifer in the bright meeting space and the individual rooms for activities and private meetings. (Annie Delin).