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Cancer Fund for Children Welcomes Announcement of €7.5 million of Government Funding for a therapeutic centre for children with cancer and their families

The Irish Government has today announced €7.5 million in funding for the construction of a new Daisy Lodge therapeutic short break centre for children across the island of Ireland diagnosed with cancer and their families, to be built in Cong Co. Mayo.

The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD has announced that he will allocate €5million in capital funding from the Department of Health. This will be combined with €2.5m in Shared Island funding also announced today.

Daisy Lodge Mayo will welcome families from across the island of Irleand for free short breaks. Children with cancer will be referred to our therapeutic short break centre by our team of Cancer Support Specialists working across the island and in some of the hospitals in both jurisdictions. Our existing centre in County Down can support 1,800 family members per year. A second Daisy Lodge will allow us to double this number to 4,000 family members per year.

“I’m delighted that we are able to support Cancer Fund for Children with this funding for a second Daisy Lodge, which will establish a vital service based in the West of Ireland for children with cancer and their families to have an amazing experience, to relax and enjoy time together with their families and with other children who are going through a similar experience. Our National Cancer Strategy recognises the important role played by the voluntary and charity sector in providing cancer support services. Cancer Fund for Children already have strong links across this voluntary and community sector, including dedicated cancer centres and have formalised links with the National Children’s Cancer Service in Crumlin, to ensure a dedicated referral pathway to services like Daisy Lodge.”

The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD

Our second Daisy Lodge in Co Mayo will be a 30,000 square foot short break centre for children diagnosed with cancer and their families, similar to our existing centre in County Down. This will be a non-clinical facility for children diagnosed with cancer, and complement the existing service we provide at Daisy Lodge, in Newcastle, County Down.

“The allocation of this funding serves as a resounding endorsement from the Department of Health, Taoiseach Office, and the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP). Most importantly, this funding will ensure that children diagnosed with cancer throughout Ireland will have the opportunity to benefit from therapeutic short breaks at Daisy Lodge in Co. Mayo in the coming years.

A childhood cancer diagnosis and its treatment can have a devastating impact on the whole family. Life as they once knew it is shattered. Beyond the excellent clinical care families receive there is a huge need for social and emotional support. Therapeutic short breaks at Daisy Lodge provide a safe, restorative space where children with cancer, their siblings and parents can reconnect, spend quality time together, meet other families and benefit from the support of our dedicated therapeutic team. This new centre will complement our existing community service which provides social and emotional support to families impacted by childhood cancer across the island.

As we can only provide therapeutic short breaks to one in every seven families across the island, a second Daisy Lodge will be transformational in helping to ensure every family impacted by childhood cancer across the island can access our support. Construction will commence in January 2024 and we are truly grateful to the Department of Health and the Shared Island Fund Unit for helping make this possible. I would also like to thank Senator Lisa Chambers, local TDs Alan Dillon and Sean Canney, the local community and Mayo County Council for their commitment to Cancer Fund for Children and Daisy Lodge.”

 

Phil Alexander CEO, Cancer Fund for Children

Families from across the island will be able to stay at both Daisy Lodge in Co. Down and Daisy Lodge in Co. Mayo once built. One parent who has welcomed this news is Sinead O’Brien from Tipperary, whose daughter Penny was diagnosed with cancer in 2020.

It’s amazing to hear that the Irish Government has approved such an incredible amount of funding in support of Daisy Lodge in Cong, Co. Mayo. In 2020, my daughter Penny was diagnosed with cancer and was in treatment until March 2021. We were supported by Cancer Fund for Children and enjoyed a short break at their Daisy Lodge in Newcastle Co. Down.

Our visit to Daisy Lodge was the first time the five of us had been together as a family in 10 months and we left this incredible space with a spring in our step. Our therapeutic short break gave us time back. We went to the beach, did yoga, and took part in arts and crafts, which was just gorgeous. We weren’t a cancer family when we were there. We felt normal at Daisy Lodge.

Another therapeutic short break centre in Co. Mayo will make an enormous difference to families like ours and this unbelievable funding is such an important step in making this a reality.

Sinead O'Brien, mum of Penny