29 June 2020
Seven weeks ago we announced COVID-19 was going to scupper our sailing and residential adventure trips this year. At that point, we were already running a number of online activities to support young people during lockdown. But knowing young people in recovery from cancer are going to need us more than ever through and in the aftermath of the pandemic, we immediately started looking at how else we could support them this year.
However, it was one thing thinking we know what young people need; it’s another giving them what they actually need. So we asked them - and their parents and the hospital and charity partners who work with them - what they were going to miss most about not coming on a Trust trip this year and how we could fill that gap. The response numbers blew us away!
We learned the biggest thing they would miss was their friends; the people who just get what they have been through and understand how they are feeling without having to explain anything. The friends that stop them feeling like the ‘only one’. And they would miss learning new skills on trips, the skills that help them realise they are more capable than they believe and which give them a sense of achievement many have not experienced since finishing their treatment.
They wanted to still feel that connection to people who relate to them in a way others can't, to not feel isolated, to be involved in a way that makes them more positive and confident about the future and to have something to look forward to. We can absolutely do this!
From Monday 6 July, all young people in recovery from cancer can get involved in our Virtual Summer activities to support them in the ways they told us they need. From young people previously supported by the Trust or who were due to come along for the first time this summer to anyone who’s recently finished treatment or who simply hasn’t heard of us before, everyone is welcome. Here’s what’s coming…
If you need further support beyond the Trust, there is a new Signposting page on our website, and our Sound Waves podcast returns for season two. There is something for parents too as we host a number of ‘Online coffee mornings’ to bring together parents and guardians of young people who may or may not have been supported by the Trust, with our skippers and volunteers to chat about issues affecting them in their child’s recovery.
Everything will be updated on our website’s What’s On page and follow us across social media.
We don’t know how long we won’t be able to run trips, but we do know young people will continue needing support. Talking to our friends and partners across the young people’s cancer network, unprecedented levels of mental health and wellbeing issues are anticipated. Isolation, loneliness anxiety, anger and fear are all challenges young people and their families experience during and after cancer treatment. COVID-19 is intensifying every one of these to unimaginable levels. That’s why we must be here.
But we can only do it with the help of our incredible supporters.
At the start of the pandemic we had to make a choice. Do we close our doors and say ‘see you next year’ to preserve funds? Or do we furlough as few staff as possible to give young people the support they needed more than ever? This was one of those times being a smaller charity helped in being able to be more nimble in our decision-making. With the backing of our Trustees, Youth Board and staff, we did the latter. That’s why we can announce this programme today, and I cannot thank all of them enough for their help and understanding.
The next two or three years are going to be incredibly tough for charities. We’re no different, with our income likely to be down by at least a third this year. So if you can, please donate to support these young people, and if you can’t we understand. By just sharing our story you can also make a life-changing difference.
For now, I couldn’t be more pleased to be sharing this good news. So come aboard, we can’t wait to see you!