During the past few months, life has changed beyond recognition. Like many organisations, Cancer Fund for Children has had to adapt, make some difficult decisions, and change its working practices.
It was determined to continue to accept referrals during lockdown, cancer doesn’t stop, so neither could they.
Every week spent in isolation in Northern Ireland, three more children were diagnosed with cancer and countless more children were struggling to cope with their parent’s cancer diagnosis.
This was a difficult time for everyone, and families impacted by cancer faced additional worries such as fear of infection, concerns about delays to treatment plans, and further separation due to isolation rules.
Overnight the team at Cancer Fund for Children developed a programme of support for children and young people impacted by cancer and moved its individual support and group work online.
From the Care Free Choir, quiz nights and ‘Motivational Mondays’ live on Facebook. These online sessions created a lifeline for its families.
Nicola Rothwell, a mum’s shared her experience of the impact of the online sessions on her son, Austin.
Austin was 12 when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2018, he spent three months in intensive care and a year learning to walk again. He now attends regular clinics at the Royal Victoria Hospital for maintenance cancer treatment:
“Covid-19 came just as Austin was about to go on his second residential.
We were called by Cancer Fund for Children’s Specialist Joe, who told us that the trip was being postponed, but they would be in touch.
To say Austin was devastated was an understatement. I was also very sad because I knew the transformative impact getting away would have on him.
I really wondered how Cancer Fund for Children could continue to offer support. Within days a Zoom meeting was set up.
I was a little unsure how Austin would respond, but two hours later he emerged for his room beaming. I totally underestimated how important social contact of this kind was to Austin.
He has had a weekly Zoom chat with the charity’s Cancer Support Specialists ever since.
They just understand these kids.
They listen and engage with them on a level that mums and dads cannot. As parents we worry about cancer treatments and side effects, about income and the impact of cancer on our other children.
Sometimes we just don’t have the mental capacity to deal with the other stuff. Cancer Fund for Children let our children be children. They allow our kids to escape for a time and to be free from treatment and worry.
It’s a very special gift they give our children”
Cancer Fund for Children’s Cancer Support Specialists did an amazing job in supporting children and young people with cancer throughout lockdown.
Through its social media, they were proudly able to share the achievements, talents and new found skills that the young people and families its support gained and developed throughout this time:
You can find Cancer Fund for Children on Facebook here:
Unfortunately, it had to make the difficult decision to temporarily pause therapeutic short breaks at Daisy Lodge, the therapeutic centre in Newcastle Co. Down, as it did not want to put vulnerable families at risk.
It also decided to pause home visits. As it moved its services online the team quickly learnt what worked and what didn’t and adapted accordingly.
Facilitating Zoom sessions with groups of 20 children aged 8-11 had its challenges but the team made it work.
Thankfully with the easing of social restrictions it has been able to start offering short breaks in Daisy Lodge to families once more and provide face-to-face individual support sessions.
While the need for its services has remained constant throughout, a major impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been a huge reduction in income.
Each year Cancer Fund for Children raise £2.5 million with £250,000 of that coming from various foundations and grants such as the National Lottery Community Fund, but for the rest its relies on the generosity of the public.
With cancelled fundraising events and corporate and community fundraising at a complete standstill, Covid:19 has had a catastrophic impact on its funding.
You can help support children and young people with cancer by making a donation right now.
But, you can also make sure Cancer Fund for Children is there for everyone who needs them in the future by leaving a gift in your Will.
For more information about leaving a gift in your Will to Cancer Fund for Children click here.
To help plan your Will why not download Will to Give’s FREE Will writing Guide here?