Bite size support groups launched!

The OPA has launched a new initiative – our aim is to help individuals create bite-size support groups that move away from the larger hospital groups for the benefit of those who do not have the time, energy, resource to attend the much larger groups set up around the country.

Support groups bring together people who are facing similar issues, whether that’s illness, relationship problems or major life changes. Members of support groups often share experiences and advice. It can be helpful just getting to talk with other people who are in the same boat.

Many patients, their carers and their family members that have had to deal with oesophageal/gastric cancer or related conditions prefer to move on after their surgery. This is a good opportunity for a few people to get together and form a Bite-Size group to help one another. A Bite-Size group may only involve a few persons but the benefits can be very positive. These groups although small in number can take place in a person’s home, a coffee shop, a church hall, local pub, social club. Smaller groups offer more intimate surroundings and people can feel more at ease.

The OPA would like to encourage people to form much needed groups in the following geographical areas: Plymouth, Barnstaple, Totnes, Devon, Paignton, Bradford, Chester, Crewe, Macclesfield, Runcorn, Manchester, Sunderland, Newcastle, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Feel free to suggest a group in your area if this has not been listed.

Benefits of support groups

Regardless of format, in a support group, you’ll find people with problems similar to yours. Members of a support group typically share their personal experiences and offer one another emotional comfort and moral support. They may also offer practical advice and tip s to help you cope with your situation.

Benefits of participating in support groups may include:

  • Feeling less lonely, isolated or judged
  • Improving your coping skills and sense of adjustment
  • Talking openly and honestly about your feelings
  • Developing a clearer understanding of what to expect with your situation
  • Getting practical advice or information about treatment options

Getting the most out of a support group

When you join a new support group, you may be nervous about sharing personal issues with people you don’t know. So at first, you may benefit from simply listening. Over time, though, contributing your own ideas and experiences can help you get more out of a support group. From experience the OPA was founded on the ethos that help is provided from patients and carers for patients and carers based on their personal journey with oesophageal and gastric cancer and other related conditions. This has helped them to gain confidence and move on and live a meaningful and purposeful life.

If you would like to start a bite-size group, we can help with basic expenses, cost of room, tea, coffee and biscuits. We provide free literature, restaurant cards, leaflets, and access to our helpline. In addition, support can be arranged to help setup, organise, offer advice for your first meeting and continued support afterwards. For further information please call 0121 704 9860 for a chat or email


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