Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer

by Teens Unite Fighting Cancer
Play Video
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Combating loneliness in Teenagers with Cancer
Thrift Shop Fashion Show
Thrift Shop Fashion Show

Sixteen young people (aged over 18) that had been away with us on a previous Activity Stay got the chance to attend our yearly Reunion Stay! The reunion stay allows the young people to reconnect with the friends they made at the summer activity stay and form new friendships in the process.

We headed to the beautiful, tranquil surroundings of the High Leigh Conference Centre. With its 40 acres of lawns, parkland, and woodland, it is the perfect space for the young people to relax and connect.

We kicked off the Stay with a series of icebreaker challenges designed to re-acquaint the young people, open communications, and build confidence for self-discovery and self-disclosure - essential for the young people to understand and accept who they are and why they do what they do, which in turn helps improves self-esteem, communication, and relationships.

And what better way to get to know each other than with a game or two of balloon toss, which as well as great fun, improves communication as they call for the balloon, develops hand-eye coordination, improves motor control and is a gentle exercise to rebuild strength. This was followed by a challenge for the young people to split into teams and build the tallest balloon structure in a limited time. A little bit of healthy competition fosters confidence and encourages engagement.

We then had as “Traditional” Sports Day – the benefits proven to enhance both mental and physical health as well as developing social skills. Each experience helps the young people to navigate a range of thoughts and emotions – the most important, and powerful part of these activities are that the young people were prepared to “give everything a go” – in an environment where they felt safe, supported, and understood.

After lunch, and a rest, the young people then headed to our Cocktail and Mocktail Masterclass! Sensory experiences like cocktail making classes are good for our mood - as we focus directly on what’s around us in the moment, we’re less likely to feel anxious, low, or stressed. Cocktails contain lots of lovely ingredients that are known to help reduce stress – including fragrant herbs like mint which featured heavily in our Mojito.

Laughter has also been shown to increase our levels of happy hormones like serotonin and decrease cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’ – and there was plenty of laughter amid the clatter of ice in the mixing cup as the young people enjoyed their cocktail and mocktails.

Everyone was encouraged to chat and connect within the group – it was such a social experience, which was a lot of fun, in turn, our brains released mood-boosting endorphins.

The evening was a relaxed affair, the young people engaged in some “get to know you” bingo and a pub quiz before heading to their beds, tired and happy to have reconnected with their friends.

The second day of the Stay had a packed timetable where after breakfast we headed to The Birch, a beautiful County House Hotel, set within 55 acres of natural beauty and perfect setting for our nature walk. 90% of young people diagnosed with cancer experience anxiety, and 70% experience depression. An overwhelming amount of evidence shows that being out in nature, walking, helps with problems such as anxiety and depression. Being out in nature improves your mood, reduces stress and anxiety, increases energy, and helps you cope during difficult times. This walk provided the perfect opportunity for the young people to dial in to their senses and focus on how they felt.


After their walk, there were opportunities for the young people to get creative as they took part in bread making and pottery classes. The creative process is a powerful way for the young people to express emotions. It can help relieve a lot of stress, anger, and sadness. In our creative activities, beneficiaries work alongside professionals and use the creative process to express and communicate how they feel. It is recognised to help them cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences – it enhances their cognitive abilities, and provides them with a real sense of achievement, improving their self-confidence and self-esteem.

Fuelled by the bread they had made, they made their way to Teens Unite’s Shop, where they readied themselves for our Thrift Shop Challenge.

Fashion is an age-old way for teenagers and young adults to connect to their peers and explore and create social networks. Young people use fashion as a way of expressing themselves, and teenagers and young adults with cancer, even though they may have lost their hair, their eyebrows, they may experience scarring, weight loss or weight gain, are no different.

Young people know what they want when it comes to fashion. They value authenticity, inclusivity, and sustainability. So, what better way to support young people overcoming the challenges that cancer brings than to support our activity which will enable them to deliver on their fashion values and create their own outfit from Charity Shop Finds.

They were divided into teams and given a voucher which they could spend in Teens Unite’s own charity shop and a budget to spend in the town. Having spent the afternoon selecting items for their outfit, the young people headed back to High Leigh to put on a fashion show to showcase their purchases.

Through this activity, as well as using the creative process to improve their mental health and emotional wellbeing, the young people learned event management skills as they designed and delivered their Fashion Show event. They learned and developed skills such as teamwork, public speaking, conflict resolution, time management and active listening, problem-solving and communication all of which will help them as they rebuild their confidence and ready themselves to make a return to education or early employment.

Exhausted after a full day, the young people headed to bed.

The final day of the Stay started a little slower. A bit of a lie in for the young people and a leisurely breakfast were the order of the day. Late morning, the young people headed into the town to take part in our specially designed Scavenger Hunt – this is a great activity to build the confidence of the young people as well as developing their teamwork skills, social interaction, and critical thinking. As they had a time limit to complete the task, it challenged their time management skills and of course, ensured they took on a little physical activity.

They headed back to Teens Unite’s office for a well-deserved lunch and some time for reflection.

This reflection time is essential in helping the young people to understand the skills and attributes used on their Cancer journey are sought after and genuinely equip them for life. We ensure that we talk through the activities that they young people have taken part in and help them understand how their participation shows they are demonstrably resilient. That they are excellent time managers, and organisers; have exceptional problem-solving skills. They’re helped to see how having cancer requires them to overcome so many challenges, both personally and in life in general. And because of what they have gone through, they have life experiences that others their age do not. Ultimately, they are helped to see that they have so much to offer.

To everyone who has supported this event, we offer sincere thanks for helping us to bring together more teenagers and young adults to overcome the challenges cancer brings.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
The Party People
The Party People

87% of young people fighting cancer lose contact with their peers; 83% experience loneliness.

The Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdown regulations meant that our annual Christmas party which brought together young people overcoming the challenges that cancer brings – the long-term impacts on their mental health and emotional wellbeing - went digital, and it’s been two long years since we have been able to have a proper Christmas get together face to face.

SO, this year we were super-excited to be able to plan a Christmas Party again with thirty young people supported by Teens Unite. We chose an incredible space in the heart of London’s Docklands – it had massive appeal to the young people we support with its exposed brickwork, rustic reclaimed timber beams and glass feature wall, all making it massively “insta-worthy” for their pictures.

Every party needs a great DJ to bring life with energetic sets to keep the young people on the dance floor all night long. So, ours was booked and ready to help us celebrate in real Teens Unite style.

The Christmas season helps to remind us about the joy of sharing food and spending time with friends, and of course our party was no exception. We created a buffet of delicious treats for the young people to enjoy – from a variety of scrumptious savoury pieces inspired by many different cultures to sweet delicious desserts, a table of plenty with something for everyone awaited them.

And no party is complete without some shock and awe, and a real chance for everyone to pull out their phones and generate some excitement. So, of course, we needed something or someone to make them all take a sharp intake of breath, and get snapping.

The young people were joined by Luca Bish, a young man who took part in the ever-popular reality show Love Island in 2022. Luca is a successful social media influencer with a following of over one and a half million. He very generously spent the whole evening with the young people, relaxed and chatting, posing for selfies and making sure that they all had a great time and something to remember long after the excitement of the night ended.

‘The venue was super nice. It was comforting to have a mini reunion with people I have met from previous events but also nice to meet some new faces! The fact Luca Bish attended really exceeded my expectation as I was not expecting anyone famous! It was also a nice mix of games with a bit of dancing and chatting.   ‘I felt most comfortable and relaxed and not feel anxious that someone will treat me differently because I have had cancer. Especially now with my short hair, I feel quite self-conscious and even though I try to embrace it I always feel anxious to what people think. However I never got this when I attended the event and Teens Unite feel like a second family to me.’ Lucia – diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma

By taking part in this event, the young people were able to

- Reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation 
- Interact and socialise with others who get what they’re going through
- Meet others in a similar situation
- Enjoy a new and exciting experience

To everyone who has been supporting our project to combat loneliness if young people overcoming the challenges that cancer brings, a HUGE thank you. With your help we have been able to create a very memorable experience for these young people.

Meeting Luca
Meeting Luca
Selfie Time
Selfie Time
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Our Digital Access workshops ensure that teenagers and young adults overcoming cancer and the challenges it brings can access support wherever they are geographically or on their cancer journey.

The sessions allow them to interact and socialise with other young people who, genuinely, get what each other are going through. They help to reduce their feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Each week, the young people can access our quizzes, online game sessions, and our chill and chat sessions via a Zoom link. Since our last report we have hosted an Emoji Quiz in which Landmarks, Superhero’s and Disney characters took on the form of an emoji and kept the Quizzers on their toes throughout!

With a 5-point lead one young girl showcased her superior knowledge of Emoji’s – rumour has it she hasn’t texted with actual words in over 5 years…

In a new weekly game, we took on Herd Mentality –a game with a simple mission: write down the same answer as everyone else. It starts with a random question, then everyone secretly writes down an answer. If your answer is in the majority, you win cows. We learnt some interesting things about the young people in this session, for example one person answered with ‘Spaghetti’ to the statement, ‘Name a food you don’t have to chew’… very interesting, and not too surprising, they didn’t win a cow! 

We always love a game of Two truths and a Lie, and this time, the young people came up with some very impressive and funny lies! We had lots of laughs and brushed up on our questioning skills to try and figure out which stories were false, and which were real.

We always look forward to bringing young people together for our digital games’ evenings. They are totally inclusive and provide a great way to get to know one another in a fun and safe environment. 90% of young people diagnosed with cancer experience anxiety, these activities invariably lead to bouts of laughter that stimulate endorphins. So, what seems like the simple act of having fun helps boost serotonin, relieves symptoms of anxiety, and increases enthusiasm in all areas of life.

To everyone who has supported our project to combat loneliness in teenagers and young adults fighting cancer, a HUGE thank you. With your help we will be able to help more young people to overcome the challenges that cancer brings.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Teenagers and young adults fighting cancer face a significant impact on their mental health and emotional wellbeing.  90% experience anxiety; 70% experience depression and 83% experience loneliness.  Our Brownie Baking Activity is designed to counter these, and other impacts – with the benefits going beyond the nutritional ones.

This activity was an online session – ahead of it, the young people were sent a special delivery, containing all the ingredients they needed to make a delicious batch of Brownies.

Sometimes, even accepting your diagnosis can be hard, but baking can be used as a great coping mechanism, centring the young people in the present with small tasks to focus on, in a manner similar to meditation.  Studies show that baking helps to address depression, anxiety, and stress. It’s a great way to express how you feel, take account of your fears and anxieties.

Baking can give the young people a real sense of control – essential when they are going through treatment as so many decisions are made for them, leaving them feeling that they have no control.

Additionally, it improves both motor and cognitive skills – many cancer patients report “chemo fog” which causes thinking and memory issues, fine motor skills can also be impacted during and after treatment.  Recording and adding the ingredients, weighing and mixing all help with both.

As they log on and learn, with others, the techniques to making their batch of brownies they learn patience – a particularly useful skill for young people living in the immediacy of the digital age where they can interact with others on the other side of the globe and watch entire sessions of shows in a few sittings.

For these young people, isolated by their illness, losing their confidence and self-esteem, cooking with others improves their self-esteem, gives them a great feeling of accomplishment, and is an extremely rewarding experience that helps to rebuild confidence.

For everyone who has supported our project, a big thank you from the Team and the young bakers who really enjoyed connecting with each other and making a delicious treat.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Even though the Covid-19 restrictions have lifted, the young people we support are cautious about meeting face to face and using public transport to get about – their weakened immune systems making them still vulnerable. So, we are continuing to deliver some of our activities digitally, and the Teens love a digital quiz night.

The health benefits of taking part in a quiz are well documented. Aside from the obvious exercise your brain gets from taking part, there is the opportunity to connect with others – to put your phone down and actually talk to people.

This time the Teens confirmed the address of The Dursley’s, told us every flavour of Bertie Bott’s Beans and proffered the name of the tree that Ron & Harry crashed their car in to as they took on a quiz which was all things Harry Potter.

By taking part in the activity the young people were able to digitally access Teens Unite’s support, interact and socialise with others who get what they’re going through, learn something new and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.

To everyone who has supported our project, a huge thank you, together we will work to ensure that no young person faces cancer alone.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

About Project Reports

Project reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you can recieve an email when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports without donating.

Sign up for updates

Organization Information

Teens Unite Fighting Cancer

Location: Broxbourne - United Kingdom
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @teensunite
Project Leader:
Lesley Morris
Broxbourne , United Kingdom
$6,062 raised of $31,000 goal
97 donations
$24,938 to go
Donate Now
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

Teens Unite Fighting Cancer has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Get incredible stories, promotions, and matching offers in your inbox

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.