Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000


Fruit Fly Collective (FFC) will use different creative, and performance based art forms, to explain the science of cancer and cancer treatment to children and families who have a loved one diagnosed with cancer. Working with Lewisham and Greenwich NHS (LG NHS) Trust, our science and arts team will develop an interactive workshop using giant fabric dolls, laser games, role play and animations to explain basic cell biology, how and why cells become cancerous, how cancer is treated and why side effects occur.

Nurses will invite families to attend the free workshops delivered at weekends in spaces within the hospital. We will deliver 12 workshops; 6 at Lewisham Hospital, and 6 at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Each workshop will have 20 places for children, each of whom will be accompanied by one or two adults. We aim to support 240 children and between 240 – 480 adults over the 12 sessions. Within each workshop there will be two science communicators, two trained facilitators, two cancer nurses and one cancer scientist.

Cancer Research UK report that 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer at some point of their lives. Therefore it is extremely likely that many children will be affected by someone they love being treated for cancer.

When diagnosed with cancer, adults are often overwhelmed and feel ill-equipped to share their cancer diagnosis with the children in the family. Many adults do not understand what cancer is and lack the ability to explain the facts about the disease and treatment. However, reports show that children want detailed and easy to understand information at the time of diagnosis and throughout their loved ones illness. Children need age-appropriate information about cancer to help them become less fearful, confused or anxious about their loved one with cancer, to understand the changes at home they are experiencing, and to develop coping strategies as they face the impact cancer has on a family.

The impact on a child when someone they love is diagnosed with cancer can be immense and there are currently no standard NHS practices in place to support them. Research shows children with a parent diagnosed with cancer are at high risk of developing psychosocial problems, such as anxiety, depression, and self-harm. Age-appropriate cancer education with good family communication reduces anxiety and confusion, allowing myths to be addressed, and children to feel included and a valued part of the family.

FFC run a successful project in primary schools teaching children about cancer. We know children pick up information about cancer, feel incredibly confused about the disease and have many questions they want answered.

Supporting this project means supporting children affected by cancer in their family by increasing their knowledge, understanding what their loved ones with cancer are experiencing, reducing their fear, becoming more confident to talk about cancer and ask questions, and building better coping mechanisms for the future.

We have worked closely with LG NHS Trust and their lead cancer nurses who are fully committed to support and facilitate the workshops as they understand the immediate positive impact the workshops will have on families. We will embed sustainable learning for families by providing accompanying online resources covering all the elements of the workshop.

This project is a pilot that will be evaluated to measure the success of educating families, and will produce critical evidence showing the impact the workshops have on the mental well-being of those who attend. We need this to show Clinical Commissioning Groups within hospital Trusts, and local and national cancer charities that will potentially fund the project. Our future goal is to roll this workshop out to all the NHS Trusts within the UK, and train healthcare professionals to run the workshops within their own Trusts.

Project Video

Fruit Fly Collective

Moment of Pride

Fruit Fly Collective tackles the difficult subject of cancer by improving open communication within the family. Using high quality innovative approaches help remove the stigma surrounding cancer, allowing us to work with all members of our diverse community.

Location: Lewisham, London, United Kingdom