The Solas Cancer Support Centre has set out its plans for the next five years as demand for the organisation’s services continues to grow. The Strategic Plan 2023 – 2027 has been approved by the Board of Trustees and includes goals to increase the number and diversity of clients during that time.

The charity provides a broad range of free support services to those affected by cancer, their families and carers in Waterford and the surrounding areas. It has a purpose built centre in Waterford City and in 2016 opened a service in Dungarvan.

Last year was the busiest year to date for the Solas Cancer Support Centre. A total of 1,008 clients were supported by the charity in 2022, including 619 new clients. That’s an increase of almost 20% since 2021.

Chair of the Solas Cancer Support Centre Barry Monaghan said, “The midst of a global pandemic seemed like a good time to reevaluate what we do and what our aspirations should be going forward. The incidence of cancer is rising in Ireland however, more people are surviving cancer than ever before. The need for our services will continue to grow which is why it’s so important for us to continually seek to become better, to improve and to innovate our services. This new plan centers around three core strategic pillars Growth & Diversity, Financial Stability, and Leadership & Innovation. We have come a long way since the South Eastern Cancer Foundation opened in Lismore Park more than 20 years ago. The people we support will always be at the heart of what we do and our vision remains that no one will deal will cancer alone.”

The Solas Cancer Support Centre/South Eastern Cancer Foundation was started in 1999 by a team of healthcare professionals in University Hospital Waterford who recognised the need for and benefits of non-medical support for those affected by cancer in the South East.

Consultant Palliative Medicine Physician, Dr Brian Creedon is a past Chair of the of the organisation. He said, “It’s now 23 years since the Solas Cancer Support was launched and it’s wonderful to see that the strategic objectives remain the same in supporting people affected by cancer in Waterford and surrounding areas. There are many excellent community cancer support centres across Ireland yet the Solas Cancer Support Centre continues to lead the way. It strives to innovate adding new support services and adapting to meet the needs of people with cancer, their carers and families. I’m glad to see the organisation recognised by key policy stakeholders as a leader within the Cancer Support Services sector.”

A massive 7,001 one-to-one sessions were carried out by the Solas Cancer Support Centre therapists, counsellors and facilitators during 2022. The figure includes more than 3,700 complementary therapy and almost 2,200 counselling sessions. In addition, there were 531 art therapy classes, 540 acupuncture sessions as well as 228 support groups and classes.

Manager Tracy McDaid said, “We are now busier than we were before the pandemic. Our team consists of 30 contracted professional counsellors, therapists and facilitators who are supported by more than 70 volunteers, six members of a Community Employment scheme and five staff members. Together, we provided services for more than one thousand people in 2022. We would not be able to provide that level of support without the generosity of the people of Waterford and surrounding areas. Every single person who took part in the Run for Life, attended one of our charity lunches, hosted an event or made a donation is helping to ensure that nobody goes through cancer alone.”

In recent years, the Solas Cancer Support Centre has introduced new services including craniosacral therapy, play therapy, acupuncture, survivorship programmes, and a school bereavement programme.

The Solas Cancer Support Centre Strategic Plan 2023 – 2017 is available to view here.