The Power of a Support Network

I’m sitting here in a bit of a dream state, life has changed for the better this week but it’s been a really long road to get here. We welcomed a new addition to our family on Saturday, a beautiful baby boy called Bertie weighing a tiny 5lbs 12.

Bertie Ball

Our story is ours but I thought I’d reflect on some of our journey and just the power of having a strong support network. In short Bertie is a “Rainbow” baby. He earns this title by virtue of our daughter Dorothy being unexpectedly still born at 36 weeks around 2 years ago. Many dads have spoken and commented on child loss. It’s a lonely place and I think the most poignant comment I really connected with was one made by Ben Fogle when talking of his own loss. He stated “I didn’t feel suicidal, but I just didn’t know how to be alive”. This is exactly how I felt after losing Dorothy. Along side our eldest son Alfred not developing typically and going through autism diagnosis, it took a lot to try again. So little Bertie is an incredible pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The real point of me writing this though is that I really want to highlight that support networks have been the key to getting to this place. Be it my incredible wife and our families. My few incredible friends who have been there no matter what to either be on the end of the phone or drag me out into nature, especially once I found out I had the addition of cancer in my life. My peers and colleagues who have asked questions and checked in. I’ve had support from amazing charities including Orchid Cancer Charity who specialise in supporting men. I’ve found a men’s group via Mettle, a men’s wellbeing app. And we’ve both been guided through this pregnancy by the amazing Rainbow Clinic at the NNUH, a service we would have been truly lost without. I’m so lucky to have had such a massive availability of support but I’m also really aware that lots of people don’t. With Paramedic qualification now being via a degree program lots of our BSC students often come far from home, family and friends to join our ambulance services. With hectic shifts and long hours those friendships and bonds can often be hard to form. This knowledge and privilege I have of how effective support networks are is why I’m so passionate about Circus Head, and I know Rob and the rest of the Circus Head team are in the same boat! (yes, that was a poor pun). Through our projects we genuinely hope we can make a difference to those who need it. Whether it’s by providing an escape from daily life by teaching them to make coffee or by providing time out in nature with peers or trained therapists through the Ithaca Project. As we continue to grow so will our offerings of support and ways we deliver them. If you’ve got an idea for a peer led project for pre hospital staff then please do get in touch with me via [email protected].


Finally please reach out if you’re struggling, people will listen and understand no matter how small or massive you think it is, talking about it and having people support you really is so powerful and important.

– Nick Ball