Posted on Wednesday 6 April 2022

in News

Young Lives vs Cancer extends Winter Emergency Grant after hearing families struggling with rising costs of living 

Since Young Lives vs Cancer launched the Winter Emergency Grant, we’ve been inundated with requests from families struggling with the rising costs of living on top of cancer costs. From young cancer patients unable to afford a winter coat to keep warm, to a parent unable to fill the tank with petrol to get to hospital for their child’s treatment, to a family struggling to pay their gas bill to keep the heating on. We’ve heard gut-wrenching stories that just simply aren’t right. At a time when families are facing unprecedented costs, our Winter Emergency Grant has been there for children and young people with cancer and their families, when they need it most.

Families are facing rising costs of living on top of existing cancer costs.

What we know is this crisis isn’t going away. Already in April we’ll see further rises in our energy bills. That’s why we’re extending the grant for an extra two months until the end of May. So far we’ve given out more than 700 grants on top of our existing grants, but we know there is still a need from families we support. We’ve given more than £240,000 in grants, but we know there is still more needed to give. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we hope to be able to help more families facing cancer and cancer costs. We know our pot will run out, but we will do everything we can to be there for families, because facing cancer is hard enough, without the stress and worries of affording food, fuel or energy bills.  

Here are just a few ways the grant has helped people we support so far: 

Helping to keep the heating on 

In December, a social worker helped a young girl in Edinburgh apply for the grant who had sadly relapsed with Ewing’s sarcoma. She was palliative, being with her family at home was crucial to her. The social worker assessed a winter grant was needed to help with high energy bills, as their heating was now on 24 hours a day. There was frequent washing and tumble dryer cycles too because of the side effects of her treatment.  

Her parents were unable to work, as they wanted to care for their daughter and spend such vitally important time with her, meaning any income was significantly lower. It was very important to this young girl be at home, and for her to feel as comfortable as possible so to maximise the time she had with her family as they cared for her.  

Keeping a family warm 

A 24-year-old single dad and sole carer to a young son recently received the grant.  He has a brain tumour and is having intensive treatment. He is isolated and has very little family support.   

His Young Lives vs Cancer social worker told him about the grant which he used to keep his flat warm and buy an extra thick duvet and winter clothes.  

Giving a young person their independence back 

Michelle, 22, used her winter grant to keep warm.   

“I felt so relieved receiving the grant as it meant I could afford to buy a proper coat, scarf, beanies and a blanket to keep me warm this winter. It’s been especially cold this year as where I’m often too fatigued from chemo or in pain from my tumours I have to use my wheelchair, and without moving around to keep warm it gets freezing and exacerbates my pain. Now I can enjoy being outside again. 

“Since being diagnosed with cancer in 2019 I have been unable to work, as especially during the pandemic I am far too vulnerable, and the unpredictability of my treatments and health makes it impossible to even apply. I am very fortunate that I can live with my parents and don’t have to work currently, but I worry about how it will impact my future.    

“I worry that being sick means my independence won’t come for a very long time. It’s difficult to think about the future because I feel like I’m still waiting for my life to start. I can’t pursue anything, especially financial independence, until I’m better. I also hate having to rely on other people, I’ve always worked and am very career-driven, so I feel a bit useless at the moment. I’m very grateful for the grants that Young Lives vs Cancer have helped me to obtain as they have given me some of this independence back.”   

Helping to pay rising energy bills 

Zena applied for a winter grant through her social worker to help pay for rising energy bills at a time when her husband wasn’t able to work as much due to her son Ben’s treatment.   

“Where we used to spend about £80 a month, we received a bill today for £112.21. We have to keep the heating on and the house warm for my son’s health. He is suffering and feels the cold and I worry he’ll get more ill. But we can’t afford the higher bills. Ben’s treatment has impacted on my husband being able to work and the bills don’t stop. We have so much to worry about already and it’s too much worrying about the bills on top too. The grants we get from Young Lives vs Cancer help us so much.”  

Helping to get a young cancer patient to treatment 

A social worker helped a 21-year-old living with cancer apply for a winter grant to help with accommodation close to hospital.   

There had been a winter storm and it had caused significant disruption to travel due to roads being blocked and closed, which would have meant a delay in her treatment. The grant enabled her to have a safe place to stay and to receive her vital treatment on time.  

How to apply

The extension of the Winter Emergency Grant is only available to families supported by Young Lives vs Cancer who have not already received the grant. The grant is in place until the allocated funds are used up. We will continue to support families with our financial hardship grant. For more information on how to apply, click here.

How you can help support families

To help Young Lives vs Cancer continue to be there for children and their families facing cancer, donate now.

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