Posted on Monday 26 July 2021

in News

Scottish government launches £5 million fund to help families be there for children in hospital

A new fund has been launched today, Monday 26 July 2021, to help families with the costs of visiting and providing essential care for their children in hospital. 

The Young Patients Family Fund will support the parents and siblings of young inpatients (up to 18 years old) in Scotland by covering expenses for travel, food and overnight accommodation where necessary. 

Young Lives vs Cancer has been tirelessly campaigning for a travel fund since 2017.

Here at Young Lives vs Cancer, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, we are delighted to see the launch of this new fund to help families face the costs that a childhood cancer diagnosis brings. And we look forward to promoting it to the families we support. 

Young Lives vs Cancer has been campaigning for a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund since 2017 for families to get help towards the cost of a cancer diagnosis. Children, young people and families supported by Young Lives vs Cancer as well as the charity’s dedicated supporters, staff and volunteers have worked together to campaign for this support and to make sure the voices of young people and their families are heard. This news will be welcomed by everyone as a great step forward to supporting young people with cancer. 

When a child or young person is diagnosed with cancer, they often have to travel significant distances to and from hospital as well as pay out for parking and the many other additional costs that come with staying at a hospital for long periods of time. 

On average, the families we support spend out an extra £600 a month when their child is going through cancer treatment – this could go towards petrol, public transport, taxis and parking. This can be over a period of up to 2-3 years and can devastate a family’s finances. 

Last year in Scotland, Young Lives vs Cancer supported 630 families, giving out 365 financial grants to the value of £74,030 helping families to cope with the costs of cancer. 286 families also stayed in the charity’s two Homes from Home in Scotland, a free place to stay nearby while their child is having treatment. 

This new fund will go on to support families like Sean’s, who had to travel over 40 miles each way from their home in Perth to Edinburgh while Sean was on treatment. His Mum didn’t drive so had to rely on public transport or someone else driving them to the hospital and back, so they spent out on bus tickets and petrol throughout his treatment. 

Amanda, Sean’s Mum said: “The travel funding will be an amazing help to families as it will take away the worry of having to juggle money to pay bills and buy food after paying out on several occasions for travel to and from hospitals. 

“It would have helped us immensely as traveling by taxis like the doctors prefer is very costly as I personally don’t drive and had to use public transport or rely on family and friends, and a lot of other families are in very similar situations.” 

The Young Patients Family Fund will go towards helping families in Scotland, like Sean’s, to pay out for petrol to and from hospital as well as the added costs that come with spending long periods of time in hospital. 

Public Health Minister Maree Todd MSP launched the fund at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh today (Monday 26 July 2021). 

Ms Todd said: “When a hospital stay is necessary, families want to focus on the health and wellbeing of their child, without the worry of the financial costs around being there for them. 

“This fund will provide support when it is most needed, and is an extension of our Neonatal Expenses Fund, which covers costs for the parents of sick or premature newborn babies. 

“The Young Patients Family Fund extends the support to cover the families of all inpatients from birth up to the age of 18.” 

Commenting on the launch of the young Patient Family Fund, Amy Callaghan MP for East Dunbartonshire, who spent time in hospital being treated for cancer as a young person, said: “The young patients family fund will make a real difference to families across Scotland.

“I’m delighted the Scottish Government has taken on the suggestion of Young Lives vs Cancer – and I’m sure this fund will be welcomed by patients, their families and our amazing NHS.

“I look forward to seeing the difference the fund makes to patient well-being.”

Helen Gravestock, our Associate Director of Policy, Influencing and Voice said: “When a child is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family’s world turns upside down. Parents often have to stop working, children can be taken out of school and suddenly they have to travel miles for life-saving treatment. The last thing they should be worrying about is how to afford the petrol to be by their child’s bedside. 

“On average, families spend an extra £600 every month while their child is having cancer treatment. 

“The Young Patients Family Fund will be very much welcomed by children and young people with cancer and their families. Young Lives vs Cancer looks forward to working with colleagues in Scotland to ensure that all eligible families can benefit from it.

“We hope this fund will go on to help many of the families we support in Scotland and we want to work with the other nations to ensure all families across the UK have access to a similar fund when going through treatment.

Details about the Fund can be found here: 

Young Patients Family Fund – Claim Form

Young Patient’s Family Fund – Terms and Conditions

ENDS

Notes to editors

For more information please contact our media team on 0844 848 1189 or email on mediarelations@younglivesvscancer.org.uk

About cancer in children and young people
Today, 12 more children and young people in the UK will hear the devastating news that they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.

About Young Lives vs Cancer
When a child is diagnosed with cancer life becomes full of fear, for them and their family. Fear of treatment, but also of families being torn apart, overwhelming money worries, of having nowhere to turn, no one to talk to.

Young Lives vs Cancer is the charity that helps children and young people (0-25) and their families find the strength to face whatever cancer throws at them. We’ve been there before. We’ll face it all, together. For more information, visit www.younglivesvscancer.org.uk

Note to sub editors
Always use our name in full: Young Lives vs Cancer and write it with only the Y, L and C capitalised. But don’t capitalise ‘vs’.

‘Young Lives vs Cancer’ should be not be abbreviated – it’s not “Young Lives” for short, nor “YLvC”.

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