Isolation is a familiar concept to young people fighting cancer. As they face their diagnosis and their treatment they’re cut off from family and friends and miss out on early employment or education. Through the “lockdown”, these young people have been more isolated than ever before. For those in treatment, social areas on wards have been closed, visiting restrictions have been enforced and important face to face events that allow the young people to come together have been cancelled. For those who had completed treatment and were ready to return to “normal” life, it all rewound as they received shielding letters sending them back into isolation.
Young people fighting cancer are stripped of their confidence and self-esteem, they are unable to see a future beyond their illness. And that’s whyTeens Unite’s Positive Steps program of regular events is so important - motivating the young people to reinvent themselves, to grow, learn new skills, meet interesting and inspiring people, and to leave the activity feeling like the world outside is theirs to command.
The Covid-19 Crisis of 2020/21 has meant that the Charity has had to rethink their beneficiary service delivery – and they have not been afraid to reinvent themselves.
Teens Unite were determined to not let the pandemic stop the positive and powerful opportunities that their activities bring to beneficiaries. So, within days of the first Lockdown restrictions being announced their program of events transitioned to online delivery. The program, with the same set of objectives and desired outcomes, now delivers sessions teaching new and life affirming skills, relaxation and yoga techniques, quizzes and bingo and general opportunities for these young people to connect with others, digitally, and on average four times every week.
Since the start of the “lockdown”, supported by the incredible funding received from GlobalGiving’s Community, more than 1200 young people have taken part in one of the almost 300 online activities the Charity has hosted.
Kerrie, who was diagnosed five years ago with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, joined Teens Unite during the lockdown for their digital sessions, and says
“The online sessions have benefited me hugely with both my anxiety and confidence. And since I’m mostly shielding due to COVID-19, the digital activities have given me something to focus on and stopped me feeling secluded from the outside world. As I’ve not had much contact during the whole pandemic, they’ve helped me to stay connected and still have fun despite being indoors. There’s always time to talk at the end of the activity and I enjoy speaking with my friends and getting to know each other a bit more. “
As Kerrie lives in Suffolk and suffers with her mobility due to the complications of treatment, it is unlikely that she would have been able to join the Charity’s pre covid-19 face-to-face sessions, but the digital deliveries have ensured that she is part of this incredible community.
After each of the digital sessions, the young people are sent a survey to help assess delivery against objectives. 100% of the beneficiaries felt more connected as a result of the sessions, 92% felt that they have learned something new or achieved something, 97% felt that their confidence had increased and 100% felt part of a community that genuinely understands them.
Teens Unite’s beneficiaries are aged 13-24 but the support that they offer to each other crosses the boundaries of age, it crosses the boundaries of gender, ethnicity, religion, social class and education. The strength of this very special community lies in the thing that unites them, their common experience – facing a life-threatening illness in their teenage and young adult years. The support and generosity of GlobalGiving’s community makes this work possible, and you can be sure that the donations we have received make a huge different to the lives of young people fighting cancer.
While the shape of Teens Unite has been affected by the change in beneficiary service delivery during Covid-19, the Charity believe that they have an excellent opportunity to at least double the number of young people that they are able to support. The impact of Covid-19 has affirmed their strategy to create an even better, more inclusive, differentiated charity supporting even more young people battling the long-term effects of cancer. The priority is to develop their digital delivery program to run alongside their 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 Teens Unite’s Positive Steps program. What a legacy for GlobalGiving’s Community to have helped create.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our programme.