Big C Announces Launch of Virtual Support Groups

Norfolk and Waveney cancer charity, Big C, has announced the launch of virtual support group meetings for men, women and young people, to further bolster the package of support on offer to those affected by cancer in our community during the pandemic.
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The Men’s Support Group, which usually meets at Big C Norwich Centre, met virtually for the first-time recently. The meeting was facilitated by Big C Cancer Information Clinical Nurse, Julian Pollard. He said “Everyone was very positive towards the experience. Many of the men in the group have been in isolation and shielding for several weeks, so being able to see people, especially those from their peer support group was really beneficial for them.”

Tim O’Shanohun, a service user who regularly attends the group, said: “By having this, it goes to show you that support is there for those who need it. Having this group meeting and the support packs that have been sent to me has been a bit of a lifeline at the moment.”

The Women’s Support Group, who also usually meet at the Norwich Big C Centre, hosted their first virtual meeting on the 15th May, organised by Cancer Information Clinical Nurse Specialist, Jenny Daly and Support and Information Nurse, Julie Taafe.

Jenny said: “The ladies who joined myself and Julie enjoyed having the catch up with everyone and sharing how they have been coping with the lockdown. The ladies were really pleased to be able to have the opportunity to use Zoom to stay in contact.”

Ladies group member, Yvonne, said,  “As I have very much missed my regular visits to the Big C centre for support, relaxation and the ladies group, I found the session yesterday very helpful as it was really good to actually see people for a discussion rather than by telephone and to know the support is there too. With my only outings where I have conversations face to face with people (other than my husband) confined to visits to the supermarket, Zoom is an excellent way of keeping in touch, like having friends round which is as close as we can at the moment.”

The Free2Be support group for young people aged 13 to 25, who have or have had a cancer diagnosis, also held a virtual support group this week.

Big C area manager, Tonia King, said: “The young people that attended really enjoyed reconnecting again and have developed great supportive friendships. We had one member join us from their hospital bed, with the group offering a much-needed distraction for the long days with no visitors. During the meeting we had some members donning fancy dress and wigs to much amusement, plus some showing off how they have been keeping active at home. My personal favourite highlight was the group singalong and dancing to Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5.”

Bianca Rudd who attends the Free2Be group said “Being at the Free2Be meeting is like been with my second family however, they aren’t family; they are people which have been through a similar situation as you have, with professionals who are there listen to you, help you if you need it and they are there to support you, not judge you and without them I wouldn’t be where I am now.” 

Another group member added: “The meeting was just what I needed. To see my cancer family was a perfect way to put a smile on my face in a troubling time. It was great to see how much Big C are still there for the people that need them.”

Big C Director of Operations, Dr Melanie Pascale said, “The Big C support team has done a tremendous job to set up the virtual group meetings which, from the feedback we have already received, we know are of great value and comfort to those affected by cancer in our community. The circumstances are currently very tough for those with cancer, but with the right support and friendship people are often able to find enormous strength and resilience.”

For more information about Big C Support Groups, please call 0800 092 7640 (free to call, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm).

To learn more about the work Big C does to improve the lives of those affected by cancer in Norfolk and Waveney, please visit www.big-c.co.uk

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