The Fruit Fly Collective: ‘PARENTING WITH CANCER’ Project

10 July 2023

The Fruit-fly Collective has a small core team of scientists, clinicians, artists and designers who collaborate with a range of experts.  Their collaborators include nurses, scientific researchers, visual artists, medics, photographers, clinical psychologists, palliative care social workers, children and young people, and people who have been affected by cancer. Their main aim is to build new ways to support children, adults and families affected by cancer through creativity, education, research and communication. 

Fruit-Fly are developing a comprehensive programme of support for parents living with cancer and create a co-ordinated unified standard approach to ensure support is accessible and inclusive, and available from diagnosis, throughout treatment and to either recovery or palliative care. They hope to help remedy the current situation, where support for parents with cancer is sporadic and dependent on healthcare teams, postcodes, cancer type and family dynamics.

Using a combination of approaches (coaching, training, workshops, online and in person support) they will identify the most effective way of supporting a parent with cancer. The collaborative nature of this project will allow relevant local and UK wide services, and organisations, to come together and build a network that is wide reaching, and recognised by health and social care professionals, so that timely support is provided.

To bring this about they will provide:
•    A parenting coaching programme (8-week online group coaching for up to 15 parents)
•    A workshop series (10 workshops for 1 hr that anyone can access)
•    An online platform (a one stop shop containing resources, videos, workshop materials etc)
•    Resources for parents, children, healthcare professionals
•    Training for health and social care professionals, and cancer charity staff
•    A parent ‘Train the Trainer’ course
•    Face to face events for parents
The collective hope that this will achieve:
•    Increased self-confidence, resilience, and parenting skills. Parents will be able to use learnt strategies and tools to parent their children, especially when new challenges arise.
•    Improved parental mental well-being. Parents will feel empowered, and stronger to cope with problems. 
•    Improved mental well-being, resilience, and behaviour in children. Children will benefit from confident parenting, feel more secure during a time when they have less control of their lives 
•    Improved communication levels, understanding and relationships within families. The impact of cancer can be reduced in families who are more harmonious 
•    Increased accessibility and opportunities for cancer patients to have their family needs met, specifically those who are needing to be careful in public spaces, or who live in not well connected areas 
•    Increasing understanding and awareness of cancer care staff around the specific needs of patients who have child-caring responsibilities

Funded by Macmillan and National Lottery, ‘Parenting With Cancer’ provides parents with a place to go to for support in the format of coaching programmes, workshops, parenting tools, coping strategies, peer to peer support, family activities and other many resources.

Everything developed has been co-designed by a team of CNSs, clinical psychologists, family therapists, cancer charity partners, parenting experts and coaches, and of course parents who have experienced a cancer diagnosis. 

There is a dedicated area for healthcare professionals which will highlight training dates, and specific resources for professionals working with cancer patients.

The FREE training courses for health care professionals are FREE and can be accessed here