Jul 8, 2021

Affirming our Strategy to Stay United

Isolation is a familiar concept for young people fighting cancer. As they face their diagnosis and their treatment, they’re cut off from family and friends. They miss out on education and early employment. Through the “lockdown” these young people have been isolated more than ever before. For those on treatment, social areas on wards have been closed, they have been kept in their rooms, visiting restrictions have been enforced and the face-to-face social events that Teens Unite often hosts on the wards allowing the young people to come together have been cancelled. For those young people that have completed treatment and were looking forward to a return to “normality” it was all reversed as they received letters advising them to shield, sending them back into isolation.

As we mark more than a year of “isolating” we look back at the year and what we have achieved to ensure that we create opportunities for these young people to “meet”, learn new skills and feel part of a very special community whose strength lies in the thing that unites them, facing a life-threatening illness in their teenage and young adult years.

With the very generous support of donations from the GlobalGiving Community, we have transitioned our services from three face to face activities each month to four online activities every week. Our Positive Steps program has lent itself to online delivery and we deliver with the same objectives and desired outcomes as when we can physically meet.

Our activities address the long-term effects of cancer which impact confidence, self-esteem, and motivation as well as the anxiety, depression, and loneliness that so often last well beyond active treatment, into remission and beyond.

Embracing technology and delivering activities more frequently has meant that Teens Unite has been able to extend support much further than before. Young people from anywhere across the UK are able to access the sessions, even those currently in hospital meaning anyone who needs support can join our activities to learn new skills, regain confidence and, most importantly, be connected with other young people in a similar situation.

After each of our digital sessions, the young people are sent a survey to help assess our delivery against objectives.  100% of the beneficiaries feel more connected as a result of the sessions, 92% feel that they have learned something new or achieved something, 97% feel that their confidence has increased and 100% feel part of a community that genuinely understands them.

The impact of Covid-19 has affirmed our strategy to create an even better, more inclusive, differentiated charity supporting even more young people battling the long-term effects of cancer.  Prioritising the development of our digital delivery program to run alongside our traditional face to face deliveries, ensuring that young people no matter where they are in the UK or where they are on their cancer journey can benefit from our Positive Steps program.

We wholeheartedly thank the GlobalGiving Supporters for their continued generosity.

Apr 19, 2021

Continuing to combat loneliness in Covid Times

Young people fighting cancer are stripped of their confidence and self-esteem, they are unable to see a future beyond their illness.

The Covid-19 Crisis of 2020/21 meant that we have had to rethink our beneficiary service delivery – and we have not been afraid to reinvent ourselves. True to our values, we did not let the pandemic stop the positive and powerful opportunities our Positive Steps Program brings - bringing together young people aged 13-24, from across the UK, who are all fighting cancer. While we have been unable to bring the young people together for a residential activity stay, we have created hundreds of opportunities for them to take part in our activities, all transitioned to online delivery but with the same set of objectives and outcomes.

The most recent, our large scale, bi-annual, motivational event, Discover You 2021. Discover You 2021 became an online conference with the same objectives of delivering positive, powerful insights and amazing take-aways to ensure that the beneficiaries

• gave themselves time and space to think

• created new visions, set realistic goals, and increased motivation

• had access to influential keynote speakers, collaborators and mentors who provided guidance and perspective and acted as role models

• learned practical, powerful skills which will help them to rebuild their confidence to return to education or early employment

• explored some lifestyle, and self-care choices needed to move on positively

• learned how to integrate peace and calm into their daily lives

And importantly,

• met other young people who genuinely know what it is like to face cancer in your teenage and early adult years

As the young people registered for the event, they were sent a welcome pack which contained a small selection of gifts to help with the objectives of the event – self care items such as hand cream, lip-balm, calming teas and some delicious, sweet treats, as well as adult colouring and puzzle books to help with mindfulness and relaxation and positive thought cards for daily reminders about the importance of being kind to yourself.

At 10am on Saturday 27th March, we welcomed 67 Teens to Discover You 2021, kicking off the event with a high energy ice breaker hosted by the amazingly talented and incredibly engaging MC Zani. As much as this high-octane ice breaker was great fun and had the group “boots and cats”- ing like professionals, there are documented health benefits of beat boxing. It’s known to improve your vocal cords and your breath control, its increases creativity and allows participants to really express themselves. Being able to identify and express feelings through creativity, improves the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the Teens, so many of whom suffer anxiety following their diagnosis and treatment.

Following this uplifting start to the day, the Teens headed to their chosen breakout group.

Some chose a fitness session with the guys from FLX Fitness which gave them an opportunity to test both their physical and mental strength. They were supported and encouraged and learned ways to rebuild not just their physical strength, but also their confidence and self-esteem. For some, it had been some time since they had done any activity, and the session left them with a real sense of achievement to resume physical activity helping them to understand what they can achieve in all aspects of their life.

Others chose a Yoga and Mindfulness session with Tara Trautman. The Teens learned techniques that helped to calm them, reduce their anxiety and fear. They learned how to combat the fatigue commonly felt by people with cancer. This kind of fatigue is different from the fatigue of daily life and different from the tired feeling people might remember having before they had cancer. It is commonly described as feeling very weak, listless, drained, or “washed out” and a feeling that may decrease for a while but then comes back. The skills they learned here, with Tara, will help them going forward to address this feeling as well as improving their sleep and slowly start to rebuild their physical strength.

The remaining Teens headed to the Self Care Talk Lounge, an informal session hosted by our own team, where they offered support to each other on a whole range of physical, mental and emotional issues. Hearing the young people telling each other the importance of self-care, encouraging each other to create and maintain healthy relationships with themselves, and offering suggestions for simple things they can do to look after themselves, from regular sleep and a healthy diet through to having a warm bath and reading a book or listening to music, was just heart-warming, and shows how very special this little Community we have created is. The support they offer each other crosses the boundaries of age, it crosses the boundaries of gender, ethnicity, religion, social class and education. Their strength lies in the thing that unites them, their common experience – facing a life-threatening illness in their teenage and young adult years. And the self-care talk lounge demonstrated this with abundance.

After a break for lunch, we all returned and had the absolute privilege of meeting three young people who have been supported by Teens Unite on their cancer journeys. They bravely shared their stories of derailment, disappointment and determination, stories of isolation, loneliness and finding lifelong friends, they faced questions from the Teens about how they found strength and built resilience and how they returned from serious illness to have happy, fulfilled lives, facing the future with strength and determination.

Totally motivated by the stories of their peers who had returned to education and employment following their cancer battles, the teens headed to further breakout sessions, this time focussed on careers, education and a return. Almost three quarters of young people diagnosed with cancer worry about the impact it will have on their future education or employment, and these sessions were designed to address those worries, and help the young people to see that their chances of success have not been impacted by the time they have had to take out.

The Teens chose to attend sessions about fashion design with FVCK Cancer, web and app design with The Life Group, returning from cancer with Dr Anisha (a cancer survivor herself), or a talk called Discovering your Strengths by founder of The Comeback Club. Some of these sessions offered work experience opportunities which the Teens relished and were keen to explore. They provided an excellent opportunity to learn from the best in the business and to provide the confidence to look forward to a future beyond illness.

The day ended in the most inspirational of ways as we were joined by international motivational speaker, former Teens Unite Trustee, and teenage cancer survivor, Chris Lambert-Gorwyn. Chris’s high energy session told how he sees himself as the lucky one having had cancer as a teenager; how it has taught him to take the positives from all situations; to celebrate small successes and to see every step, not matter how small, as a step towards your goals and aspirations.

This was a very fitting end to a day of positivity and motivation and ensured that the Teens left the event having met the objectives of the day – they learned some new skills, met interesting and inspiring people, and left feeling like the world outside is theirs to command.

91% felt more inspired after attending Discover You

91% felt more motivated

87% felt like they could challenge themselves more

83% felt more connected with other young people in a similar situation

This is an incredible legacy for the supporters of GlobalGiving to have helped create and we are very thankful for the generous finding that has enabled these opportunities.

Apr 19, 2021

The importance of self-care

As we write this report, we are preparing for another in our self-care series of workshops for young people fighting cancer.

Self-care is so important for everyone, but particularly for these young people who are stripped of their confidence and unable to see their future beyond their illness.

In the digital sessions, the young people sign up to the event, and are sent a self-care pack containing skin care essentials – gentle products recommended for skin care during and after treatment.  The products are intended to soothe and restore, repair and rejuvenate the skin. 

When the beneficiaries join the digital session, they learn skin care techniques and the importance of both the skin care regime to hydrate their skin and the importance of creating a protective barrier in all weathers and in the home setting.  They also learn the importance of taking time for themselves, to improve their mental and emotional well-being, reduce their stress and anxiety and to boost their self-esteem.

These sessions, ensure that the young people have the opportunity to meet others, to offer mutual support, and share their own stories.  Hearing the young people telling each other the importance of self-care, encouraging each other to create and maintain healthy relationships with themselves, and offering suggestions for simple things they can do to look after themselves, from regular sleep and a healthy diet through to having a warm bath and reading a book or listening to music, is heart-warming, and shows how very special this little Community that you have helped to create is.  The support they offer each other crosses the boundaries of age, it crosses the boundaries of gender, ethnicity, religion, social class, and education.  Their strength lies in the thing that unites them, their common experience – facing a life-threatening illness in their teenage and young adult years.  And these self-care opportunities demonstrate this with abundance.

Thank you to everyone who has helped to create this very special community supporting young people fighting cancer.

As we write this report, we are preparing for another in our self-care series of workshops for young people fighting cancer.

Self-care is so important for everyone, but particularly for these young people who are stripped of their confidence and unable to see their future beyond their illness.

In the digital sessions, the young people sign up to the event, and are sent a self-care pack containing skin care essentials – gentle products recommended for skin care during and after treatment.  The products are intended to soothe and restore, repair and rejuvenate the skin. 

When the beneficiaries join the digital session, they learn skin care techniques and the importance of both the skin care regime to hydrate their skin and the importance of creating a protective barrier in all weathers and in the home setting.  They also learn the importance of taking time for themselves, to improve their mental and emotional well-being, reduce their stress and anxiety and to boost their self-esteem.

These sessions, ensure that the young people have the opportunity to meet others, to offer mutual support, and share their own stories.  Hearing the young people telling each other the importance of self-care, encouraging each other to create and maintain healthy relationships with themselves, and offering suggestions for simple things they can do to look after themselves, from regular sleep and a healthy diet through to having a warm bath and reading a book or listening to music, is heart-warming, and shows how very special this little Community that you have helped to create is.  The support they offer each other crosses the boundaries of age, it crosses the boundaries of gender, ethnicity, religion, social class, and education.  Their strength lies in the thing that unites them, their common experience – facing a life-threatening illness in their teenage and young adult years.  And these self-care opportunities demonstrate this with abundance.

Thank you to everyone who has helped to create this very special community supporting young people fighting cancer.

 
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