Support in the Community Recommences
With lockdown measures beginning to ease, from 1st April 2021 our Cancer Support Specialists are again able to provide direct face-to-face support to children and young people impacted by cancer in their homes and communities.
We made the difficult decision to pause our face to face delivery in January 2021, this was in response to the strict government guidance at the time.
The strict lockdown after Christmas brought with it a new set of challenges for families living with cancer, many of whom have been shielding. Once again, our team of Cancer Support Specialists adapted the services, we offer to ensure that the needs of this vulnerable group are met.
Here are just some of the ways our Community Team has supported young people and their families over the last three months:
- We continued to deliver online group support to 8-11 year olds with 24 young people regularly attending.
- A new group of 12-17 year olds started online support with 22 young people in attendance.
- The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award online programme commenced for young people aged 14-17 years old with 18 young people signed up to take part this year.
- Our Care Free Choir continued to meet regularly to sing and take part in a quiz and will continue to do so throughout the rest of this year.
- In March we delivered a ‘Ways of Wellbeing’ programme to 120 parents covering topics from stress and anxiety, talking to children about cancer, dealing with grief and loss.
- We undertook a bereavement consultation with 36 parents responding. We look forward to studying their feedback which will help develop and enhance our bereavement service.
- We have been working in partnership with the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and young people (NICCY) to facilitate a workshop with teenagers exploring the impact of COVID-19 and are working very closely with CLIC Sargent in the design and delivery of group support and interventions for teenagers and young adults with cancer.
From July 2021 our therapeutic short break centre, Daisy Lodge, has been a constant support for families and our Residential Services Team is adapting our therapeutic services to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last three months:
- 58 families have benefited from a therapeutic short break support at Daisy Lodge, despite the reduced numbers we can welcome at any one to as per our social distancing measures.
- New guidelines mean that we could no longer work in large groups, so our Complementary Therapists and Cancer Support Specialists are delivering therapeutic support to individual family groups. This has been very well received and is the perfect platform for meaningful conversations and interactions.
- We developed Chill Skills, a specific programme for individual families providing a restorative environment to help them build resilience through movement, mindfulness, breathing and relaxation activities.
- A total of 305 family members have attended 178 family workshops and 123 chill skills sessions.
- A project to develop the garden behind our Narnia log cabin recommended March. The garden redevelopment is funded through the National Lottery ‘Awards for All’ and in partnership with Northern Ireland Prison Service and the South Easter Regional College who are redesigning the garden for young people to enjoy on future residentials.
Speaking about the support they received one family said,
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity to get away for a few days when it would be impossible to do otherwise because of the pandemic and to bond with my two beautiful children. No distractions of home schooling just magnificent views, baths and cups of tea. Watching my children laugh and play while looking lighter for three days has been a blessing and I hope we can come back soon when things are back to normal and we can mingle.”
None of this would have been possible without the continued and constant support of our amazing donors and charity partners. You answered our call. Cancer does not stop for a pandemic and neither did you. Thanks to you we are able to ensure that children don’t have to face cancer alone.