Maggie's is a well-established charity. Named after the late Maggie Keswick Jencks, the centres are based on her idea of an alternative environment to a hospital where cancer patients and their families can take time to discuss and learn more about the illness and the situation that the patient and surrounding family and friends may face.
Maggie's ensures that, prior to starting construction of a new centre, the construction and running cost for the first two years is raised. As a result, in Nottingham, the community were aware of the prospect of a local Maggie's centre from an early stage and were heavily involved in fund raising for the new centre. The Nottingham Post targeted raising £500,000 through local community fundraising initiatives, but actually raised a staggering £640,000. Several major donors bought the total to the much needed £3 million.
Laura Lee, Maggie's Chief Executive thanked the community by writing in the Nottingham Post; ‘The centre was made possible by the people of Nottingham and belongs to them. The campaign with the paper didn't just raise the funds for the centre; it rallied the community in support of Maggie' s and created a great sense of ownership within people towards their local Maggie's.' Local fund raising activities included parachute jumps to coffee mornings to the Post's reverse auction.
The awkward sloping site, unlikely to be needed by the hospital for future clinical buildings or extensions sites, was chosen for its visibility and adjacency to the Oncology Department and Breast Institute (BDP Architects).
Maggie's Nottingham, serving the East Midlands Cancer Network (approx. 1.3 million people), like all of the other centres across the UK, is for anyone who is affected by cancer. It offers psychological, emotional and practical support for those with cancer or their friends and family. This area alone sees over 4,000 new cases of cancer a year.
The design of the centre is deliberately domestic rather than institutional. There is no reception desk. On entry visitors can be seen from the office, in turn visible to them and easily accessed are the library and kitchen, the heart of a Maggie's Centre. Other accommodation includes two meeting rooms either side of the kitchen and upstairs a large meeting/activity /yoga room, counselling rooms, IT area and a lie-down room. The basement store also acts as a plenum for the ASHP. The interior fit-out was created by Paul Smith and includes lots of colour, patterns, artwork and found objects - acting as a conversation breaker for visitors to the centre. Sir Paul Smith said people would either love or hate the furniture and décor but the important thing would be that it created a welcoming environment in which people could get to know others who were also affected by cancer.
The centre head, Mandy McMahan, describes the design:
"Design and architecture are very important to the Maggie's Centre and to visitors because from the outside the building is striking and stunning, when people enter they come with a certain curiosity and what they're met with is this beautiful light and this openness and beautiful lines. They feel a sense of being somewhere special which is uplifting to them and makes them feel special as well"
Since its opening at the beginning of November 2011, around 7,000 visitor's have been to the new centre in Nottingham. The centre head has gathered a few of their reactions:
‘It feels like home (then most going on to comment on how they wish it was their home!)'
‘Light and open, yet still cosy'
‘Feels like we are floating, up and above watching the world go by'
‘A sanctuary, relaxing and uplifting'