25 January 2023

This month Brian Nagorcka, Leader of the successful Wimmera Prostate Cancer Support Group in Horsham, has shared his advice for other groups hoping to grow their member base.  

The Wimmera Prostate Cancer Support Group based in Horsham, Victoria first launched in 2016 after Brian, along with prostate cancer survivor Max Judd, put their hands up to take the lead.

With the support of the local Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse, they launched in June 2016, two years after Brian was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and have benefited from a thriving group ever since.

So, what’s the secret to success? In a digital age where a lot of people are seeking out alternative individual support options online, how do Support Groups continue to attract new members?

Brian says it all comes down to community awareness, involving partners, and building trust. Here’s his top tips in his own words:

  1. Get out into the community: We promote the group by firstly having a display at the Horsham Plaza twice a year. We also have a stand at the Wimmera Machinery Field Days in early March. This event runs for three days, and it is manned in shifts by members over these days. We are also looking at holding a sausage sizzle at Bunnings later this year, as we need to be out in the community more to promote prostate awareness! A lot of our members have become members as a result of word of mouth, as well as personal contact.
  1. Utilise local advertising: We use the local community radio station Triple HHH to promote the group on the Friday before our meeting with different members being interviewed, which is good. Many people listen to that program. Most community stations will provide some support or interviews free of charge.
  1. Include wives and partners: It is very important to include our wives, partners and family in the group, because it is a journey together and we as men need that support, as they also go to our medical appointments. We have spoken to prostate patients elsewhere, who haven’t thought of how their partners or families feel, but it does affect them as well.
  1. Learn to listen: I think that the timing of the meetings, group activities, guest speakers, lunch together and confidentiality of the group has helped the WPCSG to grow. It gives the members time to talk of their individual situations, and we need to listen and help where we can, as this is so important! At one of our meetings, we had a ladies view of how they handled their situation when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. After hearing her story, one member said that this was one of our best meetings, as he had no idea how his wife or family felt! We must talk and listen, so that we can help. 
  1. Time your group right: If you have a senior group, consider meeting during the day. The WPCSG meet once a month at 12 noon for lunch at the Horsham RSL, followed by a meeting and guest speaker at 1 pm. As the years have gone on, the members are not going home until at least 2.30 pm, as they are talking and supporting and encouraging each other.
  1. Connect with your local Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse: Our local nurse, Mandy Johns, has been a great help for our area and can help refer members.

If you’d like support with promoting your group in 2023, get in touch with the PCFA team at SupportNetwork@pcfa.org.au