Posted on Monday 31 July 2023
UK-wide billboards raise awareness of Young Lives vs Cancer’s campaign on young cancer patients’ travel costs
- Out-of-Home billboards raise awareness of Young Lives vs Cancer travel costs campaign
- Young Lives vs Cancer found children and young people with cancer (0-25) and their families spend an average of £250 a month on travel to and from treatment including petrol, congestion charges, public transport and taxi fares
- 71% of families say they’re struggling to meet these travel costs
Today (Monday 31 July), Young Lives vs Cancer has launched the charity’s latest campaign across billboards UK-wide, working with JCDecaux Community Channel. The new advertising aims to raise awareness of #RunningOnEmpty, the charity’s campaign highlighting the travel costs children and young people with cancer and their families have to pay to get to treatment. From Monday 31 July to Friday 1 September, billboards across the UK will feature a child supported by Young Lives vs Cancer.
Young Lives vs Cancer, the UK’s leading charity for children and young people (0-25) with cancer and their families, is calling for a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund to help young people and families get better financial support. The charity’s research found almost three quarters of young people with cancer and families are struggling with travel costs. One in ten have even missed or delayed treatment as they could not afford the travel.
The new advertising supported by JCDecaux Community Channel features five-year-old Dylan from Birmingham who was supported by Young Lives vs Cancer when he was diagnosed with cancer at just 2. Dylan was diagnosed with leukaemia after his parents, Rachael and Russell, noticed he had unexplained bruises and seemed more tired than usual.
Dylan had to travel from his home just outside of Dudley to Birmingham Children’s hospital for chemotherapy treatment, which would cost £200 in fuel every month. When treatment was at its most intense, Dylan was going into hospital up to four times a week. Rachael and Russell would often share the drive, one would drive to hospital and then drive home, but if only one parent was available that would mean having to pay for parking too.
Rachael said: “When I’m at work he’ll go by himself, he went the other day and he was there for a few hours and it was £20 parking. We’re going three or four times a week sometimes.”
Victoria Jones, who was diagnosed with lymphoma at 21-years-old, had to travel to Southampton General Hospital for her treatment from the Isle of Wight. She would have to get the ferry across, which could cost up to £200 return at peak times.
Victoria said: “If I was having my chemo in the morning and my clinic was 8am during rush hour, a taxi could be anywhere from £12-15 just to go up the road. The parking alone would cost us £20-23 a go. As much as people say ‘it’s only £20’, that £20 is my week’s food.”
On top of having to pay out for travel, Victoria also had to stop work so struggled to face these costs as well as her other bills at home. This led to her having to give up her flat.
“It was a case of I either I keep my own safe space or die. I was previously homeless a year or so before I started my cancer treatment so my flat was my achievement, so it was sad giving that up but it had to be done.”
When Victoria lost her flat, she considered stopping treatment all together as she couldn’t face the mounting costs. Her Young Lives vs Cancer social worker Kate helped Victoria to access grants and financial support to help as much as possible.
“Without Kate being there and giving me the help that she did I genuinely think I would have stopped treatment and said I need to spend whatever time I’ve got left sorting my finances out and making sure my partner’s looked after.”
Both Dylan’s family and Victoria were supported by Young Lives vs Cancer, who provided them with financial grants to help cover some of these costs, but they can’t cover everything. That’s why the charity is calling for a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund, to enable all young people with cancer and their families to get better financial support to help with the cost of travelling to treatment.
Chris Dooley Head of Social Impact at JCDecaux UK said, “This is an important cause that our JCDecaux Community Channel is proud to support, using the public screen of Out-of-Home to bring this message to people out and about in the UK. Our JCDecaux Community Channel was launched to open up access to Out-of-Home to communities and charitable initiatives and I look forward to seeing this campaign up on the streets.”
Helen Gravestock, Director of Policy, Influencing and Voice said: “It’s great to see our campaign shared on JCDecaux billboards across the UK. The costs of travelling to hospital for treatment is leaving 71% of children and young people with cancer and their families struggling.
“We need as many people as possible to get behind our campaign for a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund. Thank you to JCDecaux UK for their incredible continued support and for helping us share our campaign far and wide.”
At time of writing, number of signatures for the #RunningOnEmpty petition was 7,914.
The establishment of the Taskforce comes after almost two years of campaigning by Young Lives vs Cancer and Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG), who together have been calling on UK government to implement a dedicated Children and Young People’s Cancer Plan.
Dominique Davis will take up her new role at the end of January