Frequently Asked Questions

Health Professionals

How Odyssey can help your patients

Participants experience positive and lasting effects on their confidence, ability to handle uncertainty, enjoyment, energy and optimism. For a majority of them Odyssey is quite simply a life changing event; it enables them to lift their eyes to the horizon once more and focus on living life fully.

Over the last few years Macmillan has sponsored places on our courses in Kent, and all participants have taken part in a before and after evaluation questionnaire.

We have since continued with the evaluation process and would be happy to share the results on request.

Odyssey is managed by Emma Thomas (Operations Manager) and monitored by the trustees to whom he reports at frequent intervals.

Maintaining the very high quality of our work is a priority and we have a rolling course of staff training to enable us to grow our network of experienced freelance trainers to enable us to deliver consistently excellent courses efficiently.

The About Odyssey section gives more details about the trustees and the staff who run the courses.

Odyssey began as a joint venture between the Kent and Canterbury NHS hospital and BMI’s Chaucer Hospital. Our Patron and founder Howard Smedley is a retired oncologist. Applications may be reviewed by a cancer nurse specialist. Advice on medical issues can be obtained at any time by the course staff.

In the short term our growth is funded primarily by fundraising of different kinds, and grant giving trusts. In the longer term we gain support from companies and corporate bodies as well as legacies and locally raised funds from support groups etc. as awareness of our work increases.

No. Odyssey is aimed at that group of patients who, though they have cancer and may have one of a variety of prognoses, are nonetheless quite active and mobile.

As an indication, people who can care for themselves and are able to manage stairs and walk, say, a mile would be quite able to participate. They are guided throughout by very experienced staff who support them so that they are able to move from success to success, building confidence and repeatedly surprising themselves with their achievements. All the activities are set up in such a way that there are choices about how to be involved and what role to adopt so that there is unlikely to be an ‘all or nothing’ choice between participating and sitting out.

More information about suitability criteria is available for download in Microsoft Word or PDF format.

It’s important to us that patients are referred by health professionals who know about the charity and can make informed decisions about who will benefit, for which Odyssey operates a Referral system. To refer a patient, please contact Aly Purssell by email or phone on 0345 363 2207.

No. Odyssey was conceived as a course for people with cancer and part of the benefit comes from being in a group where everyone has that in common. There are organisations who offer outdoor courses for other groups and may be able to help. These include the Institute for Outdoor Learning and Outward Bound.

Many of our staff have experience and training in this field which is closely related to their regular work as trainers, however we firmly believe that experiences in the outdoors affect people in a profound and deeply beneficial way without the need for lengthy and probing discussions.

Naturally participants may choose to have such conversations but we won’t start them, indeed we will rescue people from such conversations if they look uncomfortable. Counselling and other talking therapies are of great value to many people, and they are widely available, but Odyssey doesn’t work like that.

Odyssey is about remembering how to look outward again after a long period of introspection. In this context the outdoors speaks for itself. For many people it is the first opportunity in months or years to forget for a few days that they have cancer.

No. Odyssey has been designed for adults and we only operate with people over 18. We are not licensed by the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority to work with younger people and it would be impractical to do this without working from a fixed base. Other organisations may be able to offer something appropriate for children. These include the Institute for Outdoor LearningPGL and Outward Bound.