HER bright smile is a familiar welcome to those visiting the Beatson Cafe.

For cancer patients and their families, a trip to the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre can be a worrying and stressful time.

But the volunteers running the warm and inviting cafe do their best to support customers – and Lucy Edmond is one of those there to help.

The teenager has Down’s syndrome but that does nothing to stop her rolling up her sleeves and pitching in with what charity bosses called “outstanding commitment”.

The 19-year-old is studying catering at college and hopes to become a waitress, with the Beatson giving her real-life experience. 

Since giving up her Thursday afternoons to volunteer at the cafe, Lucy’s mum Florence says she has flourished and made new friends.

Florence said: “Lucy is not going to have a degree so she needs to have as much experience as she can. 

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“It’s really essential that she gets as much professional experience as possible.”

Florence heard about the Beatson Cancer Charity’s volunteering opportunities through friends and thought it sounded ideal for Lucy.

At 16, Lucy had begun volunteering in Heart of Scotstoun Community Centre and wanted to develop those skills.

So the City of Glasgow College and Glasgow Clyde College student applied to the Beatson.

Florence said: “It was through a friend who was volunteering here and told us about it. 

“Lucy needed work experience and they thought this might be a great place for her, and that’s how it happened.

“It was all very straightforward. We explained what volunteering Lucy was already doing, we came in for a chat and they gave us her shifts and she started.”

Lucy has learned practical tasks, from cleaning the tables to replenishing the stocks, as well as more advanced skills such as operating the till.

She makes tea and coffee for customers and loves interacting with everyone who comes in. 
Florence said: “It gives her such confidence. I was doing her CV and I was able to put all these things down, saying she was doing this and that – it is so important.

“I looked into a few other places and I’m on the other side of this too, with my own job, so I know when you are being sent packing.

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“But we weren’t here – we were welcomed.” 

Lucy began her volunteer role, and Florence decided to join in, meaning they were working side by side.

The teenager has also had support from a new friend she has made in the cafe.

Lucy said: “I love my job here on a Thursday. I work clearing the tables, stacking up drinks, sugar and bottled water. I like talking to the people – I talk to them and make conversation.

“My only problem was the hot water for the tea was too high up for me to reach it but then we came up with a way to work around it.

“John is my favourite thing about working here. He is my pal. I high-five him when I come in and he shows me how to do everything, like put things in the right bins.

John quickly learned about Lucy’s love for Take That... and helped her feel at home by putting a poster of the boy band on a door in the kitchen for her.

Thanks to her work experience at Heart of Scotstoun and the Beatson Cafe, Lucy was able to join Glasgow restaurant The Wee Lochan, where she remembers tables by naming them after Take That members.

Florence added: “Thanks to her experience we are able to say she’s working at the Beatson Cafe and it’s a door opener. My personal aim is that Lucy will get a job in the customer service industry when she has experience. At the moment she is able to use her earnings to buy herself little treats and that is a great thing for her.”

Marilyn Hosie, volunteer manager, said the cafe is staffed with more than 40 volunteers who keep it running Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm.

She said the charity aims to be as inclusive as possible with its open door policy.

Bosses take on people with a range of ages and backgrounds, from Duke of Edinburgh Award young people to pensioners. And they are using social media to get the word out to as varied a range of people as possible.

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Marilyn said: “Our ward visitors do an amazing job keeping people company and giving them that human contact.

“There are people who come down from the islands and their family can’t necessarily visit them, for example, so having company is so important in reducing isolation.

“We have a really beautiful mix of people.

“We are looking for people with kindness and compassion to offer and you don’t have to be from any specific background to offer that.”

As Lucy bustles around making sure all the stock in the cafe is replenished, Marilyn says she has become a vital part of the team. 

She said: “I’m quite new to the Beatson Cancer Charity so Lucy has always been here for me, but it has been lovely to see the relationships in the cafe and the support for Lucy that is there. 

“Something special happens in here every single day and Lucy is a big part of that.”