Team Young Lives took a trip to UK Parliament – but why were we there?

On Tuesday 13 June, we held an event to launch our #RunningOnEmpty research report, which shows all the evidence behind our campaign. This report is an important part of our campaign as everyone can see where the data and experiences that we’re sharing throughout the campaign have come from. It also demonstrates why we’re asking for a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund.   

Why go to Parliament? 

We held the event  in Parliament so Members of Parliament (MPs) could hear first-hand why a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund is critical to support children and young people with cancer and their families, and to encourage them to support the campaign.  

MPs are important in supporting campaigns like #RunningOnEmpty because they can help to raise the issue directly with the government and in the House of Commons, which is where decisions like whether to create a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund are made.  

What happened? 

Amy Callaghan MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Children, Teenagers and Young Adults with Cancer, hosted the event. She kicked off proceedings by sharing how important #RunningOnEmpty is because of the financial and emotional impact having to pay for travel to treatment can have on young cancer patients and their families.  

Next, Rachel Kirby-Rider, our Chief Executive, then delved deeper into what we found out in our research. She shared some shocking facts and figures, including that over 70% are struggling with the cost of travel, and only 12% are getting any support that covers their costs. Rachel said how important it is that charities, MPs and the government work together to improve experiences for young cancer patients.  

Sir David Haslam, Chair of Young Lives vs Cancer’s Trustees, shared how important it is that, when making decisions, charities and governments hear directly from people who have experienced f the issue they are trying to solve. He then passed the mic to three guest speakers to share their experiences: 

Vic, diagnosed with lymphoma at 21 

Vic shared her experience of travelling from her home on the Isle of Wight to Southampton for treatment. It was powerful to hear about how she would worry about how she would afford the ferry, on top of her regular expenses like food, rent and bills. She had to give up her flat because she needed the money to travel. She even considered stopping treatment altogether because of the costs, but her Young Lives vs Cancer social worker stepped in to help. You can read more about Vic’s story here.  

Rishya, daughter diagnosed with cancer at 4 

Rishya shared that when his daughter Esha was diagnosed with leukaemia, they would have to travel from Essex to Great Ormond Street (GOSH) in London, which cost hundreds of pounds on public transport and fuel. He shared how the financial costs added a lot of stress on top of dealing with the diagnosis and treatment. 

Holly, a Young Lives vs Cancer social worker from our GOSH team 

Holly outlined the scale of the problem the social care team face. Holly and her team are contacted daily by young people and families asking for support with travel costs. She shared how one family who pre-diagnosis were financially stable have now maxed out 15 credit cards because of the cost of travel.  

So, what now? 

We hope that this event has raised awareness of the #RunningOnEmpty campaign among MPs. We will be following up with those who attended (and those who didn’t!) to keep this on their agenda and to raise it further in Parliament and to the government through questions, motions and debates. As we continue to call for a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund, and with MP support, we hope that the government will take the action needed to put this fund in place.  

If you haven’t already, please check out our #RunningOnEmpty campaign and add your name to our petition for a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund. If you’ve already added your name, THANK YOU! Please keep sharing the petition with your friends, family, and networks to help get as much support as possible. Together we will stop young people with cancer and their families from #RunningOnEmpty because of travel costs.  

Author: Emma

Posted on Monday 19 June 2023

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