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Cancer Fund for Children Launches New Community Support Service in the Republic of Ireland

Cancer Fund for Children has launched a new national Cancer Support Service for families of children diagnosed with cancer in partnership with the Katie Nugent Fund at Children’s Health Foundation.

We are delighted to welcome four new Cancer Support Specialists, Aoife, Claire, John and Rachel to our team. Working alongside our Cancer Support Specialists in NI their role is to provide ongoing social and emotional support to families across the island of Ireland impacted by a childhood cancer diagnosis. They support children aged 0-24 diagnosed with cancer, their siblings and wider families in their own homes, communities and shared care centres.

Since our Community Team started working with families in the summer:

  • The have received 120* referrals for support.
  • They are currently supporting 200* families in every county across ROI.
  • 49 families have availed of therapeutic short breaks at Daisy Lodge in Newcastle Co. Down.

(*These figures are up to December 2023)

Meet the team!

My name is Aoife Malone and I am from Castlebar in Co Mayo. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education, Health Play Specialism and Play Therapy.

Prior to working for Cancer Fund for Children I worked in Crumlin Hospital for three and a half years on the haematology and oncology ward as a Health Play Specialist. During my time working there I supported children and families affected by childhood cancer using different play techniques and providing emotional support. These techniques included distraction play for procedures such as NG tubes or a dressing change and preparation play to help to prepare a patient for a Hickman line. Play also helped children coping with side effects of chemotherapy or waiting for big surgeries or procedures. I also carried out normal play which was based on the child’s likes and interests and encouraged normalisation during their hospital experience.

 I believe Cancer Fund for Children is an amazing charity that cares for families and children impacted by childhood cancer in such a unique way. I am excited to continue to support children and young people affected by childhood cancer in their family home and community and I am looking forward to being able to support the wider family including siblings. I hope to establish strong and trusting relationships with both the diagnosed child and their family.”

Aoife Malone, Cancer Support Specialist for Cavan, Westmeath and surrounding areas in the Midlands

My name is Claire Kennelly. I am originally from Kerry, but I currently live in Co. Wicklow. My background is in paediatric nursing. I worked on St. Johns Ward in Crumlin hospital for three years before joining Cancer Fund for Children as a community based Cancer Support Specialist.

I think Cancer Fund for Children provide such great support to children and young adults with a cancer diagnosis, their siblings and families. There is a huge need for emotional support for these families and this is an exciting time for the service to be available throughout Ireland.

I’m really looking forward to meeting with children and their families, building rapport with them and providing the individual support that they need on their cancer journey”

Claire Kennelly, Cancer Support Specialist for the Leinster Region

“My name is John and I grew up in Cork. My background is in Social Work and over the past number of years I have worked across various social work teams in Tipperary, Dublin, and Cork. I started out in this area nearly 10 years ago working with young people in care, supporting them during what was often a really difficult time in their lives. More recently I completed training in the areas of Trauma Informed Care and Childhood Bereavement which led me on the path towards my current role.

When I first heard about this job with Cancer Fund for Children I thought “this can’t be legit, it sounds way too good to be true”, but after meeting the team in Daisy Lodge and all those working in the community across Northern Ireland and the ROI, I realised it is even better than I expected! It feels like I have gone back to the heart of why I became a social worker (even though I don’t use that title anymore), supporting children, young people and their families and meeting them where they are at. I feel so privileged to be part of Cancer Fund for Children’s vision to ensure no child across the island of Ireland faces cancer alone.

I am excited to see the positive impact that the community support we offer can have on the lives of children, young people and their families impacted by cancer. I am looking forward to the unique opportunities that flexible and informal support can offer; no two days will be the same and whilst there will be challenges there will also be times of great fun and hope. I love living in Cork, for me it is home, but I also find myself drawn to Kerry and surrounding counties on a regular basis, so I look forward to supporting the families of Cork and Munster in this role.”

John Daunt, Cancer Support Specialist for Cork and the Munster area

My name is Rachel Duffy. I’m originally from Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon and I now live in Bearna, Co. Galway. I am trained as a general and paediatric nurse. I’ve worked in Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Galway University and in the community in the West of Ireland. I’ve also worked as a Children’s nurse abroad in Uganda and Saudi Arabia which were both amazing experiences.

I wanted to work with Cancer Fund for Children to help support families who are going through an incredibly difficult time in their lives. Coming from a nursing background I understand the importance of support outside the hospital setting. To be able to go into a family’s home and spend time with parents, siblings and children diagnosed with cancer is a real privilege. It is so important for families to have that time and space to express and discuss how they are feeling and coping throughout this journey.

As a Cancer Support Specialist, I am looking forward to building relationships with young people and their families. Spending time with children and young people is one of my favourite things to do and hopefully while doing this I can help and support them during a very difficult time.

I am very much looking forward to the opening of the new Daisy Lodge in Cong, Co. Mayo. It will be amazing to be able to offer a therapeutic short break to all families impacted by childhood cancer because currently due to limited availability, not all families can be supported at Daisy Lodge in Co. Down.”

Rachel Duffy, Cancer Support Specialist for Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon

In January 2024 our new Youth Support Worker will join Cancer Fund for Children. They will be based along side our Cancer Support Specialist, Kim at Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin. The Youth Support Worker role is the first of its kind and will provide informal social and emotional support to young people aged 11+ during their cancer treatment.

Cancer Fund for Children understands the profound impact a childhood cancer diagnosis can have on the whole family and that beyond the excellent clinical care families receive there is a huge need for social and emotional support.

Find out more about the support we offer children and young people impacted by cancer across the island of Ireland here or call us on 01 562 1580/028 9080 5599