London’s new Irish Cancer support group

London's new Irish Cancer support group

New Irish Cancer support group launching in London

Service aims to give cancer patients, their families and carers a safe place to talk and get advice

Irish cancer patients and their families can avail of a new support service, in north-west London, which will support them from time of diagnosis, through treatment and beyond.

Launching at the beginning of next month, the service will provide a buddy system, companionship and support, a self-help group, a closed online forum and advice through various stages of illness. Many of the difficulties vulnerable cancer patients have is the prospect of having to attend appointments alone.

The new Irish Cancer Support, an initiative by Safe Start Foundation, will address this issue and others that have been raised through their initial research, which was conducted through public surveys. Another problem highlighted to the organisation is the lack of advice and knowledge over financial entitlements when faced with treatment, and what support and benefits are available to patients.

London's new Irish Cancer support group

The scheme, which will run various help and support groups, is open to all Irish in London. It is also open to all Brent residents, as the borough is partially funding the support group.

The service will officially open with an open ‘drop-in’ day, on Monday April 3rd, for those looking for more information at the foundation’s base in Alperton; 1 Bridge Hill Close, HA0 1EP.

Feedback

The initial feedback from the surveys has identified areas that support is needed but going forward the service will identify and help with other issues once they have interacted with new users.

Jean Coffey, of Safe Start, said: “We are trying to help people out with support going to meetings or appointments, or with advice over the financial implications of being diagnosed, basically help them alleviate any stresses they encounter while battling their illness.

“It is a holistic service and as it develops we aim to address other issues that are raised by the community. And the beauty of it is people, who may or may not be on their own, can self-refer themselves to us.

London's new Irish Cancer support group

“Basically any help and support that the Irish in London need we are here. We first noticed the need was there when we checked in on people after they had been absent from our community centre for a period. A lot of the time we would hear they were ill or caring for a loved one that had cancer.

“Over the past ten years we have worked with London Irish and in that time it has been highlighted that a culturally sensitive service is needed for patients and carers alike.

“The support worker will provide a referral service aimed at all Irish people, across all sections of the community, whether old, young, employed, unemployed, retired, living independently or with family.

Safe place

“This is not a medical service but a support service. Being diagnosed with cancer can be very lonely, even with family around you. It will allow people battling the disease or their carers to come to a safe place and talk to people who are going through, or have gone through, a similar experience.”

As the service is only partially funded by Brent Council at present, the foundation is also interested to hear from parties or individuals who can help with sponsorship or volunteering. As well as sponsorship opportunities, individuals can do their own personal fundraising, or those willing to help can also offer their time towards the group.

Anyone interested, either to help or to obtain support should get in touch with support worker Clare via support@safestart.org.uk or by phoning 0208 900 0001.

More information can also be found by searching @IrishCancerSupportLondon on Facebook.

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