Innovation Exchange

Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service (MCISS)


Key activities

Benefits and impacts


The Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service (MCISS), or Macmillan @ Argyll and Bute Libraries, provides an excellent opportunity to develop Macmillan Cancer information, support and signposting services in a networked partnership approach across Argyll and Bute which meets local needs within local areas. This service raises awareness of cancer and associated risks; early detection and preventative action, utilising existing and new links with core partner services such as Argyll and Bute Council, NHS Highland, Macmillan Cancer Support and Argyll Voluntary Action (now called Argyll and Bute Third Sector Interface), as well as local partnerships. The partnership model established a consistent level of training and services across the pilot areas of Kintyre and Bute during Phase 1 of the project, within the restrictions of available supports and Macmillan grant (£176,000). Phase 2 of the project has seen Macmillan Cancer Support provide a further £300,000 to roll out the MCISS to the remaining libraries, as well as two island locations, over the next 3 years. Macmillan Cancer Support believes that this type of service is best delivered in a non-clinical environment and libraries are viewed as the ideal location.  

Theme: Health and Social Care

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The service is run by the MCISS Service Manager and the MCISS Volunteer Co-ordinator, with library staff and 6-8 volunteers trained in each location to run the drop ins. Annually volunteers provide almost 1000 hours a year on behalf of the Council in each location. Governance is provided by a Steering Group and there are four geographic Operational Groups to manage and develop the service at a local level with core partners represented who can make decisions on the service’s operation. The Operational Groups will increase as the service rolls out across Argyll and Bute over the next 3 years.


Working with library staff, health and wellbeing spaces were created in the libraries that have Macmillan branding, comfortable seating with tables, access to refreshments, a display area, booklets, information folders (transport, national / local support agencies, local activities),health related books, plants, access to a phone, access to a PC or laptop and a more private quiet room. Suitable drop-in times were identified and volunteers recruited to fill these time slots. Volunteers were recruited with support from partners, PVG checked, and trained to start to work with the staff to run the drop-ins, including completing data forms to record enquiries and identifying any issues that can be fed back to partners. Monitoring and evaluation is ongoing and includes, but is not limited to, structured independent evaluation, staff and user feedback and Macmillan’s Quality Standards.   

The service has examples of service users gaining information that has assisted with early diagnosis. Positive feedback shows that the service is meeting community needs. For each local service in addition to the weekly drop-in there are about 15 ‘Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service @ XXXLibrary’ branded leaflet holders (60cm x 30cm) in other community locations. The service has the potential to position Argyll and Bute Libraries at the heart of community led and supported health promotion, awareness raising and emotional support, harnessing the passion and commitment of its communities. This model can be used to develop similar support in libraries or other Council locations for different health needs, or other Council services. It is anticipated that this kind of health work will grow as people live longer and are likely to have co-health conditions that the NHS will need service users to self-manage in their communities.   

The main lesson learned was the importance of the community development approach to implementing the MCISS and rolling it out across the authority. The success of delivering the MCISS  in each location depends heavily on engaging with relevant local partners and getting them on board at the earliest stage possible.

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:


Patrick McCann

Culture and Libraries Manager

Argyll and Bute Council

01436 658837

Case study added to site: July 2016

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