Cancer Focus NI to develop new regional centre in Enniskillen with major £3m investment

Cancer Focus Northern Ireland has identified Enniskillen as the location for its first new regional support centre to support people affected by cancer.

It follows the publication of the charity’s new five-year strategy last week which revealed plans to open five regional support centres across Northern Ireland by 2027 to create local spaces of sanctuary and support for people impacted by Cancer across the region and in a major shake-up in how cancer care is delivered in Northern Ireland.

The first of the new centres will be developed in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh and was made possible through part funding provided by a Department of Health Cancer Charities Support Fund grant, that provided over £418,000 towards this innovative project. In total, a £3m investment will be made in the centre over the next decade.

The overall investment announced will include the development of a new Cancer Focus NI retail unit at Shore Road in the town and the development of a new state of the art Cancer Focus NI regional support centre on High Street in Enniskillen. It is expected that the redevelopment of the centre will commence in autumn 2023, following the granting of planning permission, with a projected opening date of spring 2024.

Part of the proposals announced under the new Cancer Focus NI strategy include the planned sale of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland’s current headquarters on Belfast’s Eglantine Avenue to help fund these ambitious plans. Other key aspects of the new strategy include:

  • Increase public awareness of how to reduce the risk of cancer and promote healthier living;
  • Funding research on primary cancers of unmet need;
  • Supporting research into the personal and social outcomes of local people affected by and experiencing cancer; and
  • Creation of multi-purpose retail outlets to compliment the cancer support centres.

A network of bespoke, regional cancer support centres is proposed for development across Northern Ireland and will allow flexibility in how people engage with cancer specialists or avail of individual or group therapeutic support and aim at bringing cancer care into communities and onto the high streets, the centres will be designed to ensure that visitors experience a sense of being away from the clinical environment of a hospital.

Local support centres will also offer space and opportunity for relaxation, reflection and solace as well as providing vital emotional and practical support services along with access to information and advice relevant to the needs of each person and their family.

After constructive meetings with Palliative Transport Care in Enniskillen, a partnership between both charities will see Cancer Focus NI roll out its existing Driving Service in the local area. Already successfully operating in the South Eastern and Belfast Health Trusts and parts of the Northern Trust, both organisations will learn from one another and quickly grow an Enniskillen volunteer driving service that will benefit even more local people.

(L-R) James Hamilton, 5th Duke of Abercorn, KG; Ivan McMinn MBE, Cancer Focus NI Chairperson; and Richard Spratt, Cancer Focus NI CEO.


Richard Spratt, Chief Executive of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland said:

“Our newly published five-year strategy is an exciting and ambitious plan that will see Cancer Focus Northern Ireland imbed itself into local communities to meet the needs of local cancer patients in the towns and cities across the region.

“Enniskillen has been chosen as the first location for these new centres for a number of reasons. There is a recognition of the town’s remoteness and, by opening a new support centre in the town, we hope to address and target under provision of cancer care for local people in Fermanagh and the surrounding areas. As Northern Ireland’s local cancer charity, it is our mission to ensure that the people we support have access to the services they need in their communities.”


Peter May, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health, added:

“The Department of Health is delighted to support Cancer Focus NI as the organisation begins rolling out its new five-year strategy and supporting those affected by cancer across Northern Ireland. Through the Department’s Cancer Charities Support Fund, we have allocated over £418,000 towards the development of the new Cancer Focus NI regional support centre in Enniskillen. Cancer Focus NI’s new sub-regional model is an exciting and innovative approach to cancer support in the community and we are pleased to support this vital work.

“Joint-working and strong collaboration between government and charities like Cancer Focus NI are crucial if we are to improve cancer care locally and support patients as best as we possibly can to deliver the best outcomes.”


Reflecting on his cancer journey and support from Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, Ciarán Fenton said: 

“I started feeling unwell towards the end of 2021. At first, I thought it was muscular issues, but after visiting my GP and receiving scans, tests, and a bone marrow biopsy a diagnosis of mantle cell lymphoma was finally confirmed in February 2022. I started on the Nordic chemotherapy protocol in early March at Belfast City Hospital Bridgewater Cancer Centre but that was suspended as I needed a chest drain and then a lung operation at The Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.   

“I resumed my chemotherapy sessions as an inpatient and outpatient over several months which culminated in a stem cell transplant in October 2022. I found the whole experience extremely traumatic, as did my family, not least because of the long periods of isolation with no visitors because of Covid. 

“However, the support provided by the team at Cancer Focus Northern Ireland throughout my treatment was excellent and helped me, and my family, through some dark days. Their insightful counselling service allowed me to talk through my feelings, needs and anxieties. 

“I highly recommend Cancer Focus NI to anyone going through chemotherapy. There used to be a stigma attached to counselling and therapy. Thank goodness that’s gone. No one need feel anxious about counselling. The opposite in fact. It will help you through the difficult days as it did for me and my family. 

“My experience supports Cancer Focus Northern Ireland’s new strategy and regional approach which I believe will be deeply impactful on cancer patients and their families. Having these support centres on high streets, beside shops and retail units, and in the heart of communities will go a long way to normalising cancer support and services in everyday life. 

“I am delighted that the first centre will be opened in the coming months near where we live in Enniskillen. I know that this facility will make a huge difference to the lives and experiences of those affected by cancer and their nearest and dearest.”

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