The significance of peer support
Peer support offers the unique opportunity to connect with someone “like me,” who has traveled a similar journey. Breast cancer support groups have been active in Canada for over 20 years; some of these early groups started for the simple reason that there was nowhere else to go to receive support and information. Even though access to psychosocial support and information for people dealing with breast cancer has increased, face-to-face peer support remains a valuable part of many women’s journey with this disease. Starting and sustaining support groups is one of the amazing contributions women with breast cancer make to one another and to their communities.
Volunteer training workshops
Our Breast Cancer Support & Information Services Team aids in the facilitation of breast cancer peer support groups across Canada through our Volunteer Training Workshops.
These workshops provide the opportunity for women to connect with others on a one-to-one basis in their own communities; to ensure that no one faces breast cancer alone.
To help facilitate and guide volunteers, our workshops provide women who have had a diagnosis of breast cancer or who have an identified genetic risk for hereditary breast cancer with the tools they need to start and sustain community based support through support groups and in one-to-one situations.
These workshops provide women with the opportunity to learn about the peer support model of service delivery; how lived experiences make them uniquely qualified to support others in a way that cannot be taught or bought. Our goal is to equip women to take that lived experience and share it with others in a way that is both responsible and sustainable.
Workshop content includes:
- Guidelines for peer support provision in groups and one-to-one situations
- Communication and facilitation skills
- Self-care and boundaries
- Strategies to deal with common challenges in group and one-to-one situations
- Outreach ideas and support group promotional tools
The workshop also provides an excellent networking opportunity for volunteers to connect with others doing similar work, to share experiences and lessons learned and to become rejuvenated in their role by practicing self-care.
All participant costs including meals, travel, and accommodation are covered through CCS program funding.
What is the role of a Peer Support Group Facilitator/Volunteer?
A facilitator’s role is to create a safe space for other women who have had a breast cancer diagnosis to give and receive support, and to share practical tips and coping skills. Her job is to keep the discussion moving in a way that is helpful and productive for the members who are present in the meeting. The Peer Support Group Facilitator does not provide medical or therapeutic advice. To facilitate a group requires a minimum commitment of three hours per month; however some women do many other activities in addition to group facilitation.
Our team is available to facilitators throughout the year as a confidential sounding board to address challenges and questions unique to peer facilitation. Our experience with support groups and facilitators across Canada lets us share the experience of how others cope in similar circumstances. In addition, our Breast Cancer Support & Information Team provides support for group members who have specific questions or concerns, which may exceed the purpose or scope of the group.
What is my role and relationship with Canadian Cancer Society?
As a community-based volunteer you will be given training to help you define your role and provide you with the communication skills and tools to assist with providing support. We will provide ongoing support to you as a volunteer through training opportunities and resources as they become available.
For more information about volunteer training and upcoming workshops, please contact the Program Team member in your region:
Angie McAuley – Atlantic Canada
1.866.273.2223 x 8274
Danielle VandeZande – Manitoba and Ontario
1.800.387.9816 x 289
Karla Heintz – Saskatchewan, Alberta and Northwest Territories
1.800.661.2262 x 3530
Amanda McNally – British Columbia and Yukon