Building of Daisy Lodge to begin this summer

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Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly has announced that building the new Daisy Lodge –  the second only of its kind on the Island of Ireland –  would commence this summer.

The centre which will be located in Cong, County Mayo is a therapeutic centre for children with a cancer diagnosis and their families and will be run by Cancer Fund for Children (CFFC). The €15 million funding for the project was raised through public fundraising as well as a €7.5 million contribution from the Irish Government (€5 million from the Department of Health combined with €2.5 million from the Shared Island Fund).

Cancer Fund for Children has operated Daisy Lodge in Newcastle in County Down since 2014, and the second centre will offer therapeutic support, in a new location, to families impacted by childhood cancer.

The new centre will welcome families from both Ireland and Northern Ireland for free therapeutic short breaks. Children with cancer will be referred to the new centre by the charity’s team of Cancer Support Specialists working across Ireland in family homes and within hospital settings.

The existing centre in County Down can facilitate 1,800 family members per year, and the new Daisy Lodge will increase this number to 4,000 per year.

Speaking about the planned new build, the Minister, who visited the site, said, “Today we take an important step closer to ensuring every child diagnosed with cancer has access to therapeutic short breaks regardless of where they live. I’m delighted to visit the site today and see the progress with the enabling works and that we’re on track to commence the full construction this summer. Partnering with Cancer Fund for Children on the funding of a second Daisy Lodge means we will establish a vital service based in the West of Ireland for children from across the island. It is vital for these children and their families to have an amazing experience, to relax and enjoy time together away from the surroundings of a hospital environment while still having the support they need. Our National Cancer Strategy recognises the essential role played by the voluntary and charity sector in providing cancer support services. Cancer Fund for Children already has strong links across the sector, including an existing dedicated centre in County Down and has formalised links with the National Children’s Cancer Service in Crumlin, to ensure a dedicated referral pathway to services like their therapeutic short break centre.”

As of January 2024, Cancer Fund for Children supports 839 families across all 32 counties on the island of Ireland. The end of 2023 saw 324 new family referrals–- a 30% increase from the previous year. Cancer Fund for Children added a Youth Support Worker to work alongside their Cancer Support Specialist already based at Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Crumlin, Dublin who will provide informal social and emotional support to young people aged 11+ during their cancer treatment.

The Chair of Cancer Fund for Children, Mr Peter O’Brien, said, “Every milestone day like this is a momentous one for families impacted by childhood cancer, as it’s one step closer to realising our vision of an equitable support service. I’d like to thank the Minister for Health and the Department for supporting Cancer Fund for Children and helping us to deliver on our mission – to ensure that no child (aged 0-24) across the island of Ireland has to face cancer alone.

“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 in their homes, communities and shared care centres.

“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 Summer 2024, and we are truly grateful to the Department of Health for helping make this possible.”