About this service

Family support workers

Family support worker

The family support worker is available to offer information, advice and support to families affected by cancer with children.

Macmillan family support

A team of trained and experienced practitioners who work with children, parents/carers, grandparents and other family members.

How are you involved with children?

  • I’m a parent/ grandparent?
  • I am concerned how my treatment may impact my childcare responsibilities and the support I offer my family?
  • I do school runs, sleepovers, take children to after school/leisure clubs
  • I am not sure what to say when they ask questions and I sometimes think they will worry about talking to me and ‘hold it in’?

What children need when someone close to them has cancer

Children are affected regardless how much they know and they:

  • are quick to notice change of routine, change of mood, tension and anxiety in the home
  • can see when people are feeling poorly
  • may feel left out, have I done something wrong?
  • may wonder if they can catch what you have?
  • have a right to know what cancer is

How can we help?

Emotional /psychological support for you and your family can come via:

  • information, advice, parenting/grandparents support
  • liaison with schools or colleges
  • workshops for children
  • signposting and referral to other agencies
  • bereavement support

Tell children:

  • the facts – simple language, small chunks
  • the name of the cancer
  • what will happen next? – surgery/treatment
  • to be prepared for obvious changes i.e. hair loss
  • there’s hope – “doctors are working hard to make me better”
  • that it’s not their fault and they have done or said nothing to have caused this
  • the truth – children have active imaginations.


  • reassure them – all their different emotions are normal
  • give them opportunities to ask questions and talk about their feelings
  • help them to recognise, name and deal with emotions in safe ways
  • help them to come up with their own coping strategies

Children need to:

  • keep to usual routines
  • keep as normal as possible – school, clubs, etc.
  • be flexible and relaxed if changes need to be made
  • involved – helping can make them feel good
  • stay consistent – boundaries help children to feel safe
  • prepare for separations – toys, photos, calendars, books
  • continue going to school – it gives stability
  • stay in touch with teachers
  • keep talking

How to contact us

Call us directly on 01473 704124  or ask your nurse, consultant or Cancer Support and Information Centre Team to make a referral.


Family Support – talking to children links

Talking to Children video

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