24 April 2019

How miles on the road in winter leads to hundreds of summer smiles :)

Trip season is here! Yay! But winter is just as busy a time at the Trust, as we go out and about to reach new young people who need support in recovery from cancer.

In the first six weeks of this year, our hospital liaison team visited 41 hospitals across the whole of the UK. The aim of these visits was to spread the word about how the hospitals can help new young people get involved in a trip for the first time.

So, when you see photos of young people beaming on first time trips this summer, those smiles are possible because of the many hundreds of miles covered by the team during the cold, dark days of January. That’s some difference to make ☺

Hayley Skinner, Operations Co-ordinator North, enjoys the summer sunshine

Hayley Skinner, Operations Coordinator, North, explains what goes on...

What are you trying to achieve from each visit?

Most simply it’s to encourage our hospital contacts to encourage young people to come on a trip for the first time. It’s about communicating the impact trips have on young people, plus admin things like form deadlines.

This year our presentations included photos of young people from the hospital we were visiting on last year’s trips so they were looking at young people they knew while we were talking.

Who do you meet with?

Most of our contacts are a hospital’s Teenage Cancer Trust Youth Support Workers or CLIC Sargent Social Workers, who know the young people and who might benefit from a trip. There are also a couple of hospitals where the contact is a medic, who loves the Trust and wants the young people in their care to be able to get involved.

But we’re always trying to grow that network to reach more young people. As soon as the season ends we know the dates and the number of places available for the following season so we let the hospital contacts know. When we start getting meeting dates in the diary for after Christmas, we always invite them to bring along others who might have access to young people we couldn’t otherwise reach.

If the hospitals have people interested in volunteering on a trip, it’s good to have them there too. We also try to encourage the contact that manages the process to come on at least one trip so they can see for themselves the impact the trips have.

And that’s at every young person’s treatment centre in the UK?

As far as possible, yes. This year, I visited 14 hospitals these across Scotland and the north of England, with Kerry, our Operations Manager (North) also coming along to a few. Holly and Laura from Cowes visited 27 hospitals across the rest of England and Wales. Because of the sheer number, we tried to fit in two meetings a day.

What do you talk about?

It’s a real mix of conversations depending on if it’s a new contact or a well-established relationship. Some already have an idea of the young people they think would benefit and would like to put forward, others go away with the information we leave them and then go out to the young people, and if under 18, their families.

With those we have well-established relationships with it’s lovely to be able to thank them for their help the previous year and to update them on any changes, especially in eligibility. For new contacts or smaller units, we want to keep the Trust in their minds so young people that could benefit from a trip get that chance

They also love the goodies we take! We go armed with things like Trust pens and post-it notes, which always go down very well on the wards, and it was great this year at Sheffield when they gave us cups of tea in Trust mugs we’d left them before!

Are hospitals the only route for young people to come on a trip?

No, young people are able to self-refer. They may not have come across our trips during treatment or may not have felt ready to come on a trip at that point. We do not have a 'time after treatment cut-off' so if they feel that a trip will be of benefit then they can contact us directly, we would love to hear from them ☺

It sounds like a full on few weeks?

It is! But you feel you’ve really achieved something once the visits have ended.


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