Posted on Monday 14 November 2022

in Press releases

Crisis Fund appeal for families of children with cancer

Young Lives vs Cancer has launched an appeal to help support children and young people with cancer and their families through the cost-of-living crisis this winter, amid a devastating increase in cancer costs.

The appeal comes at a time when the charity are supporting families who are having to deal with the uncontrollable costs of cancer alongside the fear of their child’s cancer diagnosis. One mum described to the charity how she was unable to afford to eat and went hungry whilst sat at her child’s bedside in hospital, and fraught with worry about returning to a cold house with gas running on emergency credit too.

The charity has launched a Crisis Fund in response, an additional £500,000 to fund grants that Young Lives vs Cancer will be providing directly to families and young people.

Rachel Kirby-Rider, Chief Executive of Young Lives vs Cancer, said: “When your child is diagnosed with cancer it’s devastating. Both emotionally and financially. And for families receiving the news today, it’s getting even harder.

“They are left having to make impossible choices. Deciding between putting the heating on to keep their child warm or paying for petrol to get them to hospital for treatment; getting the food that their child desperately craves while on chemotherapy or buying them a warm coat.

“There are still families and young people out there who haven’t received the relief of a grant. They’re left having to make unimaginable sacrifices as their debts spiral. We can’t support them without the public’s help. Please donate to our Crisis Fund Appeal today.”

Latest figures by Young Lives vs Cancer show families could now have to spend £730 a month on cancer costs. One family facing daily sacrifices and struggling to afford the costs is mum Tanya and son Peter’s. 

Peter, 17, from Kent, was diagnosed with leukaemia earlier this year. His mum Tanya said the spiralling costs of bills have added a huge strain on the family throughout his treatment.

Tanya said:It’s just costing so much just to live with gas, electric, water rates and council tax. It’s emotionally draining where Peter’s not well and then I’ve got the worry of all the bills. It’s having an emotional effect on me. I’m sitting there crying thinking ‘Oh my god, I can’t afford to buy food this week and my boy’s got cancer’, and even if he didn’t have cancer, I’d be sitting there crying as a mum because I can’t feed my child. Him having cancer as well, is making me even worse and even sadder.

“I was paying £20-something a week for my electric and now I’m paying £30 to £40 a week and as it’s turning to winter I’m having to use the tumble dryer and washing machine too. I’m only on £200-something a fortnight. £80 a fortnight I’m putting on electric, that’s £160 a month, that is a lot of money. Then my gas I put £26 on that – that was a couple of weeks ago and that’s gone now as well, and I’ve only had my heating on twice.

“It has had a really big impact on us as a family. I’m on emergency credit right now until I get paid tomorrow. I’m going to have to pay electricity, my gas and my council tax and then that’s it, I’ll have no money, I’m going to be skint.

“When you’ve got a sick child it’s even more emotionally draining for the parent, and it makes you feel like you’re failing as a parent. That’s how I feel. I think Peter’s really hungry and I want to cook for him, but I can’t, and I feel bad because he’s got autism as well.

“There’s hardly anything left to clothe the boys, there’s nothing there to feed my children really. I’m getting by but they are having to go without and I’m having to go without as well.

“Sometimes I sit here and cry when I really am poor, and I think ‘I’ve got to go to the hospital next week, I’m not going to be able to have anything to eat, and Peter might not want to eat what they’re going to give him’. I feel embarrassed I’ve got to sit up there all day there with nothing, I can’t even have a cup of coffee, and that is how bad it’s got.

“A few times I have been sat in hospital and I feel really hungry and I want to get something to eat, but I haven’t got anything. I didn’t take anything out of my cupboards or make a sandwich because I haven’t even got anything to take with me, so that is how bad it is.”

Rachel Kirby-Rider added: “We are witnessing the worst cost-of-living crisis we have seen. What Tanya is experiencing is devastating and families shouldn’t have to go through that. So many families we support are hitting financial rock bottom.

“We cannot sit by and let those already devastated by all that cancer throws at them, struggle even more. We have heard from our social workers just how desperate the situation is. We can’t wait for the government to intervene; we need to help families now.” 

Notes to editor

About the fund
Until 31 March 2023, children’s families and young people who meet the eligibility criteria can get up to a £350 grant to help cover extra costs related to a cancer diagnosis. The Crisis Fund will be subject to a social work assessment of financial need. This is to ensure that the Crisis Fund gets to those who need it most, directly linked to cancer treatment and the cost of living.  

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