starting a self help group

hi all, just wanted to pick your brains, with the some help from the Macmillian i am setting up a self help/support group in my area for all cancers, i need to do some posters and flyers, so any suggestions for how to encourage people to attend that i can put on the posters/flyers would be a great help

Is it for cancer patients only, or those affected by cancer (e.g. close family members) also?

Is the group to be on-going, or to meet for say 6 or 8 weeks? Do you plan a launch?

Are there to be speakers/professionals invited, or is it peer support?

Where would the posters be displayed? Hospital waiting room, GP practice, High Street or…?

I guess you will have the Macmillan logo somewhere on the flyers, presumably they are helping with funding, and the group is to offer free admission?

Might also be an idea to have someone who has some pastoral care background who you could call on, e.g. trained counsellor, hospital chaplain etc. in case the group gets swamped by the needs of its members.

Hope this is helpful - I am involved in a local support group set up 6 months ago, that meets monthly. It is facilitated by a former paediatric cancer nurse who herself has had bc, diagnosed at the same time as I was. It is for all cancers and is ongoing.

Hi Alison

I would suggest that you contact your Macmillan Development Community Network Co-ordinator (google them under Macmillan CancerVoices) as they should be able to point you in the right direction.

I’m not sure whether you are trying to set up a general cancer support group because, as MrsBlue says, I feel you need to do some more research first in what setting you’re wanting to create this, is it going to cost you rent wise, are you going to be a fund raising group or self help group, what professionals are you going to have there, is it a mixed group, speakers, what time of day, etc etc.

You also have to be careful not to use any logos without the permission of that particular charity but by looking under CancerVoices you’ll see which area you come under.

I set our group up from very small beginnings 10 years ago (just 2 of us) and we know have over 100 members but we are totally breast cancer as I belonged to a ‘general’ group 13 years ago and it just didn’t work, especially the male/female equation. I applied for and was successful in 2006 in getting a grant from Macmillan to create our own support group’s website which has had 1,000’s of hits so Macmillan can also help you with small grant funds for posters and such like.

Good luck


hi MrsBlue and Pinkdove, i am getting support off the Macmillian, but wanted to see what has worked well for other groups in getting people to come along in the first place, it will be for all cancer patients/friends/family, i have already got a lovely relaxing room in our newly done up library at a cost of £5. per hour with the use of 8 computers, i have just recieved all of cancerbackup’s booklets on all cancers to use for a ref. also will be getting the same from the Macmillian, i have applied for the Macmillian grant but will not hear about that till after the 3rd of April, i have had quotes from the local volunteer bureau for transport costs as we have a lot of outlying villages so we will be providing free transport to the venue to ensure that people get to and from it safely. until i know the result of the grant application then i won’t be using any logo’s initially. i have the backing of the local district nurses who will help to promote the group, also from the local hospice, just need some new idea’s on how to get people in intially, this group will choose its own name, and decide its own agenda once its set up, so totally self help. our local paper will run an article two weeks before the launch date which is the 16th of April, i plan to make the posters and flyers during this week, so as i said, any fresh idea’s for them will be great. also we have no self help groups at all in this area for any form of cancer! keep it coming, i am finding this all very helpful xxx

Hi Alison

I think what you’re doing is excellent especially as there’s no groups around at the mo.

Have you thought about approaching a local radio station as well - I did that in the early days plus get Macmillan to put an article in their Newsletter.

It sounds to me as though you’re going round it the right way - the challenge is getting people to attend but it does evolve and you may well find that you might have more women than men go (I wonder why??!!).

It took us ages to think of a logo for our group, we kept our name very simple so people knew exactly what type of group we were but the logo! I think it took us months to agree on something. We also had ours publicised by the breast care nurses in the early days so I think you’re well on the way.

If you want to ever have a look at the website I created it’s peterboroughbreastcancersupport group (just google it) and it’ll give you an idea of what I’ve put in there. (Hope the moderator doesn’t mind me putting this link in so feel free to remove it if it’s not appropriate).

If I can be of any other help just let me know. We decided not to go down the road of registering as a charity as I worked for one for over 14 years and there’s a lot more to it than just being a self help group.

Pinkdove (Carol)

it will be monthly or whatever the group decides, and we will be inviting professionals if that is what people want. and the posters will be displayed in the local gp surgeries, handed out by the district nurses, and in the local community halls, also i can display them at my local hospital. we will have all available written up to date written information on hand with numbers of the support groups available, eg, Mac, Cancerbackup, BCC, which we will be updating as and when they change, also it will give people the opportunity to access these three websites should they wish to do so. it will be an informal setting, where people can just chat, share experiences and be with like minded people. there will be no medical advice, and anyone who wanted any would be referred to one of the above, or to their gp.

Carol, thank you so much, i will go and have a wander round your site, if we had a support group i would have gone, i can’t believe i am the only one in my area!!! your help will be invaluable to me and i really appreciate it

Carol i just had a quick look through your website, its really good, thank you so much for leading me to it, i shall be having a good read through over the next day or so, and thank you for your earlier support to me in directing me to the Macmillian, who as ever have been a great help to me.

Glad to be of help Alison! Good job there’s someone like you around your area…

It took me about 7 months to put it together but I loved doing it and having been updating it normally around once a year. I’ve just put Dr Harvey’s rollercoaster speech on it in pdf format (you might have seen it) after contacting him to make sure it was okay for me to use it plus the involvement of our Bouncing Back booklet within our local area with our cancer network group.


Hi all

Let me know if this is a help, but I can put the link to Peter Harvey’s work here if you want,

Best wishes


Hi Ann that would be great thank you

Thank you Ann, i shall have a good read through their site