The second weekend of February was an important one for Candlelighters’ Family Support team, as it marked the gathering of the first ever dads’ support group!

Since the opening of The Square (our Family Support Centre, based in Leeds) in February 2015, we have organised regular activities for the groups, which have traditionally spanned from grandparents to siblings to mothers. Through this, we have supported both bereaved family members as well as the family members of children who are on treatment, or have finished treatment.

But now, with the appointment of Carly to the charity’s first Family Network Coordinator role in November 2016, we have been able to expand our support by creating a group for dads affected by childhood cancer as well.

On Saturday 11th February, at The Square, Carly and the team ran the focus group to bring eleven dads together. These were dads from different stages of childhood cancer, including some bereaved, some with children on treatment and some whose children had finished treatment.

The basement room at The Square was kitted out with various activities (Xbox, dartboard, a giant 6 lane scalextric track… you name it!) and the space was filled with voices chatting and the sound of laughter. Dads got together to race each other on various games, and enjoy a copious amount of food and refreshments too!

The purpose of this first meet-up was, firstly, to bring the dads together to get to know each other. Secondly, it provided an excellent opportunity for discussion as to what activities they would like to see at the regular group meet-ups, and how often they would like to meet up. Included in the discussion were questions such as:

  • How often should the Dads’ Group meet?
  • Should the Dads’ Group be split up into different groups? (e.g. our Mums’ Groups are currently split into two- one for mums with a child on treatment, or post treatment, and then another group for mums who have sadly lost a child to cancer).
  • What should the Dads’ Group be called?

Carly said: “This is the start of a vital peer support network that we are building for our Candlelighters families. Peer support occurs when people provide knowledge, experience, emotional, social or practical help to each other. This can be provided in a number of different ways, such as groups, 1-2-1 support, online or over the telephone. Families are able to support each other through an incredibly difficult time of their lives, and just having someone to understand what you are going through, and who you can talk to, can help immensely.”

The feedback from the dads regarding the afternoon was fantastic. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves and are really looking forward to the next get-together in April. If you would like to join the Dads’ Group at the next meet up, please do get in touch with The Square on 0113 887 8333.