The charity will open a new Home from Home in Edinburgh in autumn 2018, providing vital free accommodation for young patients and their families near the re-sited Royal Hospital for Children and Young People.
CLIC Sargent’s current Home from Home, CLIC Villa, has supported thousands of families since it opened in 1997. More than 300 families have stayed at the house over the last two years, many for several months.
The new Home from Home, designed by LDN Architects, will be built on Old Dalkeith Road. It will have nine en-suite family bedrooms, as well as communal kitchens, laundry and social areas, helping families spend more time together and avoid often debilitating travel costs.
CLIC Sargent research shows children receiving treatment can face an average round trip of 56 miles to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, to receive treatment.
Four families who have experienced how vital CLIC Villa is have put forward suggestions to name the new home, based on their ‘cancer heroes’ who have supported them throughout their family's cancer journey.
Charlie, aged six from Buckhaven, was diagnosed with stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma when he was just two and a half years old. Charlie had been suffering from seizures since he was nine-months-old and had been diagnosed with epilepsy, but his mum Evonne knew something wasn’t right after noticing he kept falling on one leg.
Evonne said: “The whole experience of his treatment was very stressful. It was very hard and when you hear that your child has cancer, you are just stuck.”
Charlie has two older brothers and the family struggled with the amount of time they would spend apart, which is why CLIC Villa made such a difference for them.
Evonne said: "CLIC Sargent is just wonderful, especially CLIC Villa, which is where I would spend a lot of my time. It was a great place. It made a huge difference for us and it saved a huge amount of expense.
“We would like to name the house after our friend April. She has done a lot for us - giving us lifts in and lifts home, and always making us smile and laugh. Charlie adores her; he calls her Aunty April.”
Reon, 13, from North Berwick, was diagnosed with leukaemia after his parents noticed he had a number of small bruises on his ankles. At first they thought it was nothing, but that it was worth getting checked out. After being referred to the hospital for some tests, they were told that Reon had leukaemia.
The family stayed at CLIC Villa. Reon’s mum Aileen said: "Mandy [CLIC Villa House Manager] and CLIC Sargent were just there for us. We had no clue what we were all facing. She was so good. At that point we were broken and she knew just how to handle us."
Reon underwent treatment and eventually needed a bone marrow transplant. His older brother Ciaran turned out to be a perfect match.
Sadly, on the first anniversary of Reon’s transplant they found out that he had relapsed. He had immediate treatment in Edinburgh before going to Glasgow, and then London for a trial at University College London Hospitals (UCLH). Reon had to have a second stem cell transplant, which saw Ciaran having five days of injections before the procedure to extract the cells.
Aileen said: “We would like to name the house Ciaran’s House for everything that he has done for Reon. Ciaran is just 16-years-old and he has sacrificed a lot. They have been through this together for the last two years and will always have that special bond.”
Ailsa, 25, from Perth, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at the age of 17, just six weeks before her 18th birthday.
Ailsa struggled with her diagnosis and said: “When they told me I remember crying and I didn't take anything else in. I didn't want to accept that I had cancer and I didn't want to know anything about it.”
Her treatment lasted a long two-and-half years. Soon after starting treatment Ailsa was put in touch with a CLIC Sargent Social Worker and her family stayed at CLIC Villa.
Ailsa said: "My mum and dad still talk about feeling the weight lifted from their shoulders at a time of total confusion and stress. I honestly don't know what we would have done without the house and their support.
“I would like to name the house Ian's House. He is one of my best friends and he was there for me through everything.”
Cameron, aged eight, from Hawick, was diagnosed with cancer in May 2015 after a month of feeling unwell. He was having difficulty walking, so doctors sent him for a scan. After a day in hospital doctors said he had leukaemia.
Cameron has autism, which made the medical procedures and environment very hard to process. The family lived 55 miles from Edinburgh.
Cameron’s mum Nicola said: "We weren't sure what we were going to be able to do as we were so far from home. Then Mandy and the CLIC Sargent team got in touch and told us about CLIC Villa. I had no idea what a difference it would make for us.
“CLIC Villa really became an actual Home from Home for us, as we ended up being there for nine months. It was a huge part of our experience and so important to us.
“We would like to nominate the name Leona's House after Leona Richardson, a cousin who was kind enough to make us fresh meals for when Cameron’s treatment was at its most intense. Leona was a great support to me when I needed time away from the hospital. She is an inspiration having taken part in Race for Life and raised money for Cancer Research.”
Home from Home appeal
The charity is calling on the public to vote for the new home’s name and help to raise the final £155,000 to cap a £3.3 million appeal for its Scotland Homes from Home.
In 2013, CLIC Sargent launched its Scotland Home from Home Appeal in response to the NHS’s plans to relocate the Glasgow and Edinburgh hospitals caring for children and young people with cancer.
Thanks to the generosity of the charity’s supporters, including the Crerar Trust and Children with Cancer UK, CLIC Sargent opened Marion’s House in Glasgow in 2015, as well as securing the site for the new home in Edinburgh.
A vital space
Kate Lee, Chief Executive of CLIC Sargent, said: “Our Homes from Home provide a vital space for families when cancer strikes young lives.
“A cancer diagnosis means normal life stops for the child or young person, and their family."
"Treatment is gruelling and often happens many miles from home. This new home will allow us to continue to provide a welcoming, calm place to help families spend more time together and ease the financial burden of travel costs."
“We are so thankful to all of our supporters and donors such as Crerar Trust for their help in completing this project, and to our families for sharing their stories and putting forward their suggestions to name our new home.”
Paddy Crerar, Chief Executive Officer of Crerar Hotel Group, said: “The Crerar Trust is thrilled to support CLIC Sargent. Their tireless work in helping families to limit the damage cancer causes beyond a child or young person’s health makes such a huge difference.
“At Crerar Hotels and our Charitable Trust we are inspired by the stories of courage from families who are faced with this terrible disease. We hope that everyone will get behind the vote to name CLIC Sargent’s new Home from Home, and we look forward to continuing our support.”
The house naming vote launched on Monday 12 March and will close at midnight on Sunday 18 March.
To donate to CLIC Sargent’s appeal text “HOME” to 70020 to donate £3 or donate online.