Our charity has been providing free support groups for people who have lost their loved ones to cancer since early 2011. The aim of the support groups is to create regular spaces for people to share stories and experiences with others who have experienced a similar kind of loss.
We run open self-help support groups. That might sound like a bit of a mouthful, but it basically means that people can attend our groups as and when they need to rather than having to sign up to a certain number of sessions.
Although our sessions are facilitated by psychologists, doctors and other professionals, the support groups are not formally therapeutic. This means that we do not provide formal therapy or follow specific structures or themes.
We have learned that our sessions are much more helpful when we address the topics and emotions that arise for our attendees on the day of our groups instead of us planning to talk about particular themes or issues. We know that coping with grief can be an unpredictable experience, and therefore, we want to give you a space to talk about whatever you need.
Next support group
We most typically spend the time sharing our experiences in our confidential and non-judgmental space, although sometimes we end up just catching up over coffee and cake too (speaking informally with others in a similar position to you can feel hugely relieving). People attending the group tend to share memories and experiences, both happy and difficult, however, there is no rules about having to speak. You are more than welcome to attend and just listen.
We provide free refreshments in each session, and aim to have a delicious homemade cake (or two!) to go around. Providing tasty refreshments is a purposeful action on our behalf – we know how difficult it can be to go along to something new and we want you to feel as comfortable as possible. Cake helps!
We also have a growing library in our support groups with a variety of books on bereavement and information leaflets. Most of our books are recommendations from attendees. You are more than welcome to borrow a book or two and bring them back when you have finished them – there is no rush to return them.
Next support group
The whole point of our supportive events is to bring together people who have experienced something similar. Our events create a space for peer support where people can get advice from others in a similar position and hear how they cope. This is different to individual support, which can be very helpful but doesn’t always allow for hearing from and sharing with others.
Our events aim to let people know that their experiences, as painful as they are, are a normal part of the bereavement process. For example, it is not unusual to have trouble concentrating or to lose your appetite when grieving, and knowing that that’s normal can be a relief. Normalising our experiences can be one of the most helpful things when we feel low.
The most well-known bereavement models are staged models, which indicate that bereavement involves moving through specific emotions in a semi-linear fashion. We have learned that this is not the case. Bereavement is a human experience and it does not necessarily just get easier every day – it is a rollercoaster in which you will be up and down at unpredictable points in time, whether that be 6 months, 2 years, or 5 years down the line. We would say that bereavement is not something that goes away, but something that changes shape over time.
Our support is there for people at all stages of grief. The continuity that our events provide allows people to get support at any point they need it, safe in the knowledge that the space will always be there.
Our groups don’t have an agenda; the sessions are led by the people who come along and what they feel they need to talk about on the day. We have learned that this is much more helpful than imposing an agenda. Some of our team members will be there to help facilitate events, but it’s all about what you want and need to talk about.
Next support group
When?: We meet every 3rd Monday of the month at the Vale Community Centre in North West London, between 6:30pm – 8:30pm.
Venue: Vale Community Centre, 1 Pentland Close, Carlton Vale, South Kilburn, London, NW6 5RT.
Public Transport: The nearest tube station is Kilburn Park (Bakerloo line), which is a ten-minute walk away. This is the most popular option.
Parking: The community centre has limited parking facilities, the centre has only a handful of spaces. However, cars are able to park for free after 6:30pm in surrounding roads.
Theme? Each month we will be running a different theme at this venue to try to meet the needs of people who want more specific support. Theme details will be shown on the Events page.
When? We meet every 2nd Tuesday of the month at sofa.com’s Bankside branch between 7.30pm – 9pm.
Venue? sofa.com, 3 Burrell Street, London, SE1 0UN. (You’ll find the venue nestled in a quiet old railway arch).
Public Transport: sofa.com’s Bankside branch is a 5-minute walk from Southwark (Jubilee line) and Blackfriars (District and Circle line) tube stations. It is also a 10-minute walk from Waterloo and London Bridge stations.
When?: We meet every 1st Wednesday of the month at St. Margaret’s House in Bethnal Green between 6:30 – 8:30 pm.
Venue: The Cabin, St Margaret’s House, Old Ford Road, London E2 9PL. (The Cabin is down a walkway to the left of The Gallery Cafe, look out for number 15 & 17 Old Ford Road, go through the gates and around to The Cabin. Signs will be out to guide you.)
Walk through this gate
Public Transport: The nearest station is Bethnal Green (Central line), which is a five minute walk away.
Parking: There is no parking available at the venue. However, you are able to park in local roads free of charge after 5:30pm.
When?: We meet every 2nd Monday of the month between 6:30pm – 8:30pm.
Venue: Kendrew Lodge, St John’s College, St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3JP.
Directions: Walk up St Giles away from the city centre. About 50-meters past the lamb and flag pub it is the first set of metal grey gates on your right opposite the war memorial.