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#staying united through COVID-19

by Teens Unite Fighting Cancer
#staying united through COVID-19
#staying united through COVID-19
#staying united through COVID-19
#staying united through COVID-19

87% of young people diagnosed with cancer have lost contact with their peers, and 83% experience loneliness

Loneliness affects people of all ages.  Younger adults aged 16-24 years are at particular risk of feeling lonely more often.  This is due to both psychological developments, and the many transitions that young people generally experience, add to that a cancer diagnosis…….

Loneliness is not just about a decline in contact or a change in relationships, it’s about a person’s identity and sense of belonging, which is why our online activities aimed at keeping our beneficiaries connected are so important. In addition to combatting loneliness, there are a whole host of other benefits to the young people joining our sessions.

Battling cancer takes both a very physical and emotional toll – it’s a real struggle to even accept your diagnosis.  “Art” is a powerful expression of emotions and can relieve a lot of stress, anger and sadness.  In our weekly creative activities, “crafternoons”, beneficiaries work using the creative process to express and communicate how they feel.  The creative process is recognised to help them cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences – it enhances their cognitive abilities, and again provides them with a real sense of achievement, improving their self-confidence and self-esteem.

Since our last report, the young people have been enjoying a series of workshops including Diamond Painting which helps tune their fine motor skills, improve their cognitive function and aids their concentration; photography and videography sessions, which as well as helping them to create memories are proven to relive anxiety, boost their confidence and help them to express themselves; macrame sessions where the pulling and working of the cords helps to strengthen their hands, improves their motor skills and enhances brain productivity; they have taken part in mindfulness colouring sessions which reduce anxiety, tension and stress, allows them to focus on one thing for a while – not their illness or their treatment.

The digital sessions remain essential in developing and maintaining strong and meaningful social connections for young people going through Cancer and its treatment.  Friendship and support are a fundamental part of our wellbeing, and we all need connections that matter.

From everyone at Teens Unite, thank you for helping us to reach-understand-support more of the seven young people aged 13-24 who, every day in the UK, hear the words “you have cancer”.

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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.

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The last year has thrown up challenges that none of us could have anticipated. Our priority throughout the pandemic has been, and will remain, creating opportunities for 13-24 year olds living with and beyond cancer to connect, learn new skills and be part of an incredible community who genuinely understand each other.

We have transformed our programme of four face to face activities each month to four digital activities each week. Since the start of Lockdown, supported by the incredible generosity of the GlobalGiving Community, more than 1200 young people have taken part in 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.

As we write, we are preparing for a favourite event in our calendar, our bi-annual motivational conference Discover You, transformed this year for online delivery.

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 what Discover You is all about - motivating the young people to reinvent themselves, to grow, learn new skills, meet interesting and inspiring people, and to leave the conference feeling like the world outside is theirs to command. We will not let the pandemic stop this positive and powerful opportunity which brings together more than 100 young people aged 13-24, from across the UK, who are all fighting cancer.

Discover You 2021 will be an online conference with positive, powerful insights and amazing take-aways that will ensure our beneficiaries • give themselves time and space to think • create new vision, set realistic goals, and increase motivation • have access to influential keynote speakers, collaborators and mentors who will provide guidance and perspective and act as role models • learn practical, powerful skills which will rebuild their confidence to return to education or early employment • explore some lifestyle, and self-care choices needed to move on positively • learn how to integrate peace and calm into their daily lives And importantly, • meet other young people who genuinely know what it is like to face cancer in your teenage and early adult years.

Inspirational, influential speakers who have fought against their own struggles, been de-railed or had to change direction will deliver engaging interactive sessions. And breakout sessions, hosted by professional service providers, will deliver workshops from our Positive Steps Program all with objectives designed to address the long-term impacts of cancer that affect these young people beyond the illness and the treatment.

The young people will be energised, encouraged, and empowered in a day with a full event programme.

We are excited to update you next time, and for now, thank you for your incredible support that ensures we can continue supporting more of the seven young people who receive a cancer diagnosis every day in the UK.

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The last six months have thrown up challenges none of us could have anticipated. Our priority has been, and will remain, ensuring we unite 13-24 year olds living with and beyond cancer, to live their best life.

Transforming our programme of four in-person activities per month to four virtual sessions every week has meant that we have quadrupled our service provision and are still here for the Teens. Alongside increasing our service provision, we have also improved accessibility for those not usually able to attend due to distance, treatment, or physical health. As a result, we have seen more young people register for our support.

 While the shape of Teens Unite has undoubtedly been impacted by Covid-19, the pandemic has affirmed our strategy to create an even better, more accessible service, available to more young people battling the long-term effects of cancer. We are the only UK charity providing ongoing support outside of the medical environment.

 Our Positive Steps activities are proven to address the long-term effects of cancer. Helping these young people learn new skills, progress, and benefit from the support of others who genuinely know what it is like to face cancer.

 The activities lend themselves to digital delivery, and the young people still learn new skills, meet new people and feel part of a very special community where cancer is not the thing that makes them different, but the thing that unites them.

 We have hosted online yoga and Zumba to encourage a return to activity; online escape rooms and treasure hunts to encourage working together, time management, questioning and listening skills, resilience and working towards a common goal. Our “expressing myself” workshops have ensured the young people have had an opportunity to express their thoughts and fears through the creative process – these have included music workshops and a variety of crafting activities coupled with acrylic painting techniques and iphone photography classes. Each week the young people have the opportunity to just “click and connect” taking part in a quiz or a game of bingo.

 To everyone who has supported the project, we thank you for not just making a donation, for making a difference to the young people we are helping to live their best life while others search for a cure.

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For so many people, the current pandemic has been isolating and lonely.  For our beneficiaries, already isolated by their illness, the period has been particularly difficult.  However, we have been continuing to do all we can to ensure that these young people have the opportunity to learn new skills, increase their confidence, regain their self- esteem, and most importantly have the opportunity to connect with other young people who genuinely know what it is like to face cancer in your teenage and adult years.

Since March 2020, when Government Advice was to “shield” and to stay home to stay safe, we moved our Positive Steps program to online delivery, utilising an online platform to deliver the same regular activities, inspiring these young people to recognise their potential now and in the future; empowering them to live every moment to the full.

Rather than three face to face activities each month, we have been delivering four “digital” sessions each week – supporting more young people than ever. The young people have taken part in a number of different activities, all with the same overriding objectives, to rebuild confidence, improve self esteem, teach some new skills, and to connect them with others who genuinely know what it is like to face cancer in your teenage or young adult years.

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.

SO, to everyone who has been supporting our staying united through Covid-19, a huge thank you.  Your support has ensured that, even during the global pandemic, we have been able to continue to unite these young people and help them to see that there is life beyond cancer.

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Organization Information

Teens Unite Fighting Cancer

Location: Broxbourne - United Kingdom
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @teensunite
Project Leader:
Lesley Morris
Broxbourne, United Kingdom
$1,013 raised of $10,000 goal
22 donations
$8,987 to go
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