Work begins on CLIC Sargent's first Home from Home in Belfast

CLIC Sargent, Northern Ireland’s (UK’s) leading cancer charity for children and young people has begun construction work on Northern Ireland’s first specialist ‘Home from Home’ for families of children undergoing cancer treatments at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

Located within walking distance of the hospital, the house has been designed with the families and their circumstances in mind. It will comprise of four large en suite family bedrooms, communal living and kitchen spaces, a quiet room and age appropriate play space.

The house will be provided to families free of charge and offers them the ability to remain close to their child while they undergo treatment as well as the chance to maintain a sense of a normal family life by keeping the whole family together.

Construction and outfitting is expected to take up to eight months, with the first families being able to use the house by early January 2014.

In Northern Ireland a family dealing with childhood cancer can face an average round trip of 95 miles, several times per week in order to receive a cancer treatment and spend an additional £360 per month. Costs will include travel, fuel, meals and accommodation. The CLIC Sargent ‘Homes from Home’ Appeal aims reduce these costs.

Commenting on the Appeal, Roisin McKenna, Project Manager, CLIC Sargent said: "It is fantastic to get the project off the ground. We’ve been working on the Northern Ireland Homes from Home concept for a number of years now, and it has taken a lot of hard work to get the project on site.

"The house at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children will provide a much needed resource to families undergoing a cancer treatment with a child. The house will do much to ease some of the stress, and cost associated with childhood cancer.

"The NI Homes from Home appeal is a £3.7m capital project and is the largest undertaken by CLIC Sargent in Northern Ireland. Work on the house at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children is the first of two build projects we aim to complete by the close of 2014.

"The second project will see a similar style house constructed in a location close to the Belfast City Hospital and Northern Ireland Cancer Centre for young people aged between 16 and 24 years of age . Fundraising is well under way but we still need to raise in the region of £1.3m to make it happen."

Leona Knox, whose son Oscar used a CLIC Sargent Home from Home in London commented: "The Homes are just brilliant. As a family we spent a lot of time on hospital wards and being able to stay in a ‘home’ meant a great deal to us. Having other families, who were going through something similar to us, staying at the house was in a way a great comfort. No one needed to explain themselves and we all understood each others situation.

"Having a ‘Home from Home’ in Northern Ireland will make a massive difference to families dealing with cancer. The support we (and others families) have received from CLIC Sargent was and still is amazing. We cannot thank them enough. The ‘Home from Home’ project will only enhance the charity’s reputation in Northern Ireland and is something that the whole team can be very proud of."

In addition to the children’s Home from Home, CLIC Sargent is fundraising to complete a similar style of house for young people (16-24 years of age) and their families attending the City Hospital for cancer treatment.

The charity must raise at least £1.3m in order to complete the project by 2014.

To keep up to date with the CLIC Sargent’s Northern Ireland Homes from Home Appeal or to make a donation please visit: www.clicsargent.org.uk/content/northern-ireland-appeal

For more information, an interview or images please contact CLIC Sargent Communications Manager for Northern Ireland, Gareth Colhoun on 028 9072 5780 or email: gareth.colhoun@clicsargent.org.uk.

About childhood cancer

Each week two (10 across the UK) children and young people in Northern Ireland are told they have cancer, and diagnosis usually comes as a shock. Treatment normally starts straightaway and can last up to three years. Although survival rates are over 70%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children in the UK.

About CLIC Sargent

CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people. It provides clinical, practical and emotional support for young cancer patients and their families, from diagnosis onwards.

For more information, please visit www.clicsargent.org.uk.

Note to sub editors

Please note that the name ‘CLIC Sargent’ should not be abbreviated to CLIC, and that the word ‘CLIC’ should always appear in capitals, as above.

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