Youth club set to open for young people affected by cancer
24 February 2015
On Tuesday 3 March the Macmillan Information and Support Centre at Southend University Hospital is to run a four-week programme at the Shoeburyness Youth Centre aimed specifically at supporting young people (aged 11-18) affected by cancer.
The Macmillan team is working in partnership with the Young
Carers Forum and they are inviting young people affected by cancer
to come along and meet youngsters in a similar position and talk to
trained specialists if they want to.
The whole scheme came about after Friederike (Fred) Englund, the
Macmillan Information and Support Centre manager, received a
poignant letter from 13 year old Hannah Canbrey, who was struggling
to come to terms with her mother Debbie's cancer diagnosis and
Hannah recalls: "I think at the time I wrote the letter I was
annoyed because there wasn't any support available specifically for
people my age. I wasn't blaming anyone I was just determined to
have something done about it. Because there was no outlet, I felt
alone and unhappy, but I didn't want to tell my parents and upset
Hannah's mother, Debbie, had previously visited the Macmillan
Information and Support Centre in Southend University Hospital,
where she was also being treated, seeking information and support
on lymphoedema after being diagnosed with breast cancer. After
meeting Fred and her team, Debbie encouraged Hannah to write a
letter asking Fred for help.
Debbie said: "All the way through my treatment Hannah was
absolutely brilliant and so strong but, at the end of my treatment,
she just fell apart and missed quite a lot of school. None of her
friends had been in a similar situation as Hannah so didn't
understand how she was feeling."
Fred and her team of volunteers responded to the letter
determined to help Hannah and other youngsters. Keen to find a
solution, Macmillan volunteers, Dawn Crockford and Caroline
Venables, carried out some research and discovered the Shoebury
Youth Carer Forum.
Caroline was just 17 years old when she had to deal with her
mother's cancer and 15 years ago, Dawn tragically lost her six year
old son to illness. Looking back, Dawn feels her other son didn't
get as much support as he needed during his brother's illness.
Dawn said: "I'm really interested in ensuring the family of
cancer sufferers get the support they also need, particularly young
people, and hopefully the cancer journey will be less
Caroline added: "When I was Hannah's age, I didn't know who I
could talk to. So, for me, help at that time about what lies ahead
would have been really helpful. You're at an age that shapes
you so it's really important."
The club in Shoebury will teach youngsters new ways to cope with
daily experiences such as school or college, how to talk to people
and look after yourself. At the end of the four weeks, if the
youngsters would like to carry on meeting their new friends and
continue receiving support, there is the opportunity to join the
Young Carers Forum.
Fred said: "Youngsters don't have a voice because everything is
focussed on the cancer patient. Teenagers are on that journey to
becoming independent and suddenly they are thrown back because
there is the responsibility of a sick parent. It just throws them
in complete turmoil and it singles them out as different to the
rest of their friends. The club is somewhere they can be a
normal teenager and give them a voice."
The venue has a climbing wall, pool table and music room and it
will be a case of asking the youngsters what they want to do - it's
up to them. Dawn added: "We are thinking outside the box, it's not
being regimented but being led by the young people; rather than
what we think they want - they can tell us what they
Hannah has high hopes for the new group: "I'm hoping the group
will mean young people like me won't get ill or stressed because we
will have someone to talk to about it. Don't bottle it up because
the outcome is much worse. It may feel like the right thing to do
at the time, but it really isn't."
Notes to editors
The four week Shoeburyness Youth Centre programme starts on
Tuesday 3 March (7pm - 8pm). It is open to youngsters aged 11 to
18. Youngsters under the age of 16 must have parental approval to
Please call in advance if you are attending so that the club can
know how many youngsters to plan for.
Call Brenda on 01702 298495 at the Shoeburyness Youth Centre or
telephone Dawn or Caroline at the Macmillan Information Centre on
01702 385101 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
The centre is located in Delaware Road, Shoeburyness, SS3