CLIC Sargent has presented a 13,000 signature-strong petition to Downing Street calling for greater financial support for young cancer patients and their families.
Extra £600 a month
The charity’s research found that parents spend an average of £600 extra a month in additional expenses during their child’s active treatment.
Three in five parents had accumulated some form of debt as a result of their child’s illness, with one in six of those having borrowed more than £5,000.
The petition is calling for the Government to:
- Conduct an urgent review of all travel assistance available to parents and young people, and make recommendations for reform by the end of 2017.
- Review the financial support available for young cancer patients and their parents who are struggling to meet the costs of their energy bills.
- Ensure all young cancer patients and their parents who visit hospitals in England should be given free or reduced hospital car parking, in line with other UK nations. The concessions should be publicised so that people are aware of them.
BT Sport presenter and CLIC Sargent ambassador Jake Humphrey brought the petition to Downing Street along with the charity’s CEO and young cancer patients Khianna Hinks-Snagg-Young and Bradley Gudger.
Jake said: “Being a parent myself, I can’t begin to imagine the emotional turmoil faced by parents as their child has cancer.
"These parents should receive all of the support they need and worrying about money as well must be completely overwhelming."
“I’m delighted to see that 13,000 people have added their voices to CLIC Sargent’s call for greater support for these families. I hope the government will listen.”
An important day
Kate Lee, CLIC Sargent Chief Executive, said: “This is a really important day for the children, young people and families CLIC Sargent works tirelessly to support, who are not only coping with the physical impact of their, or their child's, cancer treatment, but are struggling to keep their head above water financially as a direct result of that diagnosis.
"Today 13,000 people have joined us to say enough is enough. We implore the government to take steps to better support these families so that their children can thrive, not only survive their cancer, without facing a future of debt long after the cancer treatment stops."
Khianna, nine, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia last March. Her mother, Kerry, had to take a lot of time off to look after her during her treatment and subsequently did not have her contract renewed.
She quickly got into serious debt, facing tax arrears, rent arrears and credit card bills. Khianna knew something was wrong as she would hear her mother crying after phone calls from the bank.
The hardest things
Kerry said: “Despite everything we went through, the financial problems were some of the hardest things to deal with.
“I couldn’t have got through any of this without my CLIC Sargent social worker. She was a godsend. If it wasn’t for her, people like me would be in a really bad way.”
Khianna starred with Jake in a video to launch CLIC Sargent’s #Cancercosts campaign.
Kerry said: “It’s amazing that so many people have signed the petition and joined the fight to campaign for more support for families like ours. I’m really proud that Khianna has been a part of this.”
Bradley, 23, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in June 2013 while he was studying for his A-levels.
He struggled to gain the benefit support he needed and found the application process bewildering, and not fit for purpose.
He said: “It would have been so stressful and overwhelming without CLIC Sargent’s help. It’s a confusing, awful system when you have no experience with it. It made our life so much easier to have CLIC Sargent in our corner.
“I know that cancer costs and it is so important that this message is heard, so that more young patients get the financial support they need, when they need it.”