CLIC Sargent is to expand its Young People’s Community Workers programme after a successful two-year pilot.
It is part of the charity’s commitment to increase the support it gives to young people aged 16-24 who have been diagnosed with cancer.
The two-year pilot saw five CLIC Sargent Young People Community Workers (YPCWs) employed across the UK. An independent evaluation, published this week, found the model has the potential to transform the support available to 16 to 24-year-olds with cancer in the UK.
CLIC Sargent YPCWs provide practical and emotional support to young people, helping them cope with the emotional impact of cancer, social isolation and education, employment and training issues. They focus their work away from the hospital, supporting young people in more informal settings out in the community.
In her report, the evaluator of the pilot project, Kate Gledhill, who has 30 years’ experience working with children and young people in the public and voluntary sector, described the pilot as “very successful” and made a number of recommendations about developing the provision of YPCWs. She said: “Funding should be secured to increase provision of young people’s community workers in the UK ensuring that all teenagers and young adults diagnosed with cancer have access to the same responsive and quality service.”
Anita Gatt is one of the five YPCWs who was part of the pilot. She said: “What’s unique about the Young People’s Community Worker role is that we are completely led by the young people. I can go to wherever they feel comfortable.
“I work with many young people who are struggling to get back into life after cancer. I am not part of their family, therefore they don’t have to worry that they are suddenly going to make me cry or hurt my feelings. They can be completely open and completely honest without having to protect me.”
One of the young people Anita works with is Jack Meeks, 20, who was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2009. He had just left school when his life was turned upside down by cancer.
He said: “CLIC Sargent has been there to make me emotionally better. The doctors and nurses are there to get you physically better, but actually looking after your emotional health can be more of a task. I am not one for asking for help but Anita can sense when I need support and finds ways to get me to talk.
“She also helped me think about life after cancer. I originally wanted to be a bricklayer and although I carried on with my course I realised that it wasn’t for me and I was more interested in electrical engineering. She gave advice on this and encouraged me to pursue what I most wanted to do. I’m now doing a course in electrical installation.”
Andrew Cooper, CLIC Sargent Assistant Director of Services, said: “The independent evaluation shows young people’s community workers are providing a much-needed role to support young people with cancer. They provide support tailored to a young person’s needs, close to home or where they are being treated, on their terms.”
“Young people aged 16-24 with cancer face huge challenges, but there is not enough support available to them at the moment. CLIC Sargent is committed to expanding its service for young people and our goal is to provide the practical and emotional support that young people with cancer need, when and where they need it.
“The expansion of our services, including the increase in the number of young people community workers we provide, will help us meet that goal.”
Over the two-year pilot, YPCWs supported 220 young people with cancer in the UK.
Following the report recommendations, the five roles have now been made permanent and the charity plans to double CLIC Sargent’s workforce supporting young people with cancer in the next five years, including providing young people’s community workers in every part of the UK. The charity will also improve online support to young people with cancer, making it more interactive and enabling them to support each other and ask experts questions.
Each year about 2,000 young people aged 16-24 are diagnosed with cancer. CLIC Sargent will need to raise an extra £3milllion a year to fund the planned expansion and is already working to a fundraising strategy to enable this to happen.
For more information, an interview or images please contact Helen Thomas on 020 8752 2855 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Outside office hours please call 08448 481189.
About childhood cancer
Every day, 10 children and young people in the UK hear the shocking news they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.
About CLIC Sargent
CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families. We provide clinical, practical and emotional support to help them cope with cancer and get the most out of life. For more information 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.