Wednesday 8th April 2020

UK

 

Like many charities, Teenage Cancer Trust has had to adapt, and adapt fast, as the impact of Coronavirus has been felt across the world, across the UK and across all our lives. I wanted to give you an update on the vital work we are doing, and some of the changes we have needed to make, to ensure we continue to support young people now and in the future. 

Our laser focus is on making sure young people with cancer receive the best treatment, care and support – especially as Coronavirus means they face more isolation and uncertainty than ever before.  

Cancer doesn’t stop for anything and neither will Teenage Cancer Trust. 

Direct Support to Young People with Cancer 

We are closely monitoring the needs of young people – and their families – and are working with our Teenage Cancer Trust Nurses and Youth Support Coordinators in the NHS to look at how our services need to adapt, whilst also making sure we do all we can to support NHS colleagues to respond to the current situation.  

For 30 years, Teenage Cancer Trust has worked with the NHS by creating a network of 28 specialist units and funding more than 100 dedicated teenage and young adult cancer nurses and Youth Support Coordinators.  

As cases of Coronavirus rapidly increase across the country, hospitals are adapting the way they work to facilitate the volume of patients. This has meant that some of our units have had to, or are preparing to, change the way they support young people with cancer. 

All young people being treated on a Teenage Cancer Trust unit, ward or within a teenage and young adult service more broadly, should continue to receive specialist care from our dedicated staff. However, the place in which they receive their care may change for a while; it all depends on the individual circumstances of the local NHS Trust.  

The situation with our nurses also varies across the country. Many are continuing to deliver dedicated teenage and young adult cancer support, while others are being redeployed to deal with emergency situations where the number of Coronavirus patients is rapidly rising. Some nurses are doing both.  

Like our nurses, our Youth Support Coordinators continue to do a vital job and are adapting to new ways of providing support. Some are working remotely and delivering support digitally, whilst others remain on site. 

We stand with all our nurses and Youth Support Coordinators at this extraordinary time. 

We are all determined that no young person should face cancer alone.  

Young People Concerned About Cancer and Coronavirus 

We are committed to providing clear, consistent and helpful information to young people with, young people who have had and those looking after young people with cancer. In addition to working with a cross-sector group of cancer charities to do this and the One Cancer Voice guidance on how to minimise risk we have also developed new information resources specifically for young people which are here.  

Financial Reality 

This increased need is against a backdrop of a huge drop in income. Most of our fundraising activities and events this year have been cancelled or postponed, including a sold-out week of music and comedy at the Royal Albert Hall that was set to raise £1 million for Teenage Cancer Trust.  

Research from the NCVO shows that charities expect voluntary income to decrease by 48% this year. Our own projections for loss of income are in line with that, and we anticipate our income will halve. 

In response, we have launched an urgent appeal. Every day our fantastic network of partners and supporters are stepping up to help. I cannot thank everyone enough for your continuing support at this extraordinary time.  

Changes to the Charity 

In addition to our urgent fundraising appeal we are making temporary changes to the charity. We are making significant financial savings so we can protect our work on the frontline in the NHS. 

This week we have placed 60% of charity staff on furlough leave so we can protect frontline delivery to young people with cancer. We’ve also reduced the working hours and pay of the colleagues who remain and have, regrettably, made a small number of roles redundant where people could not be put on furlough leave.  I, along with my Senior Leadership Team, have also taken a 25% pay reduction. 

The understanding and acceptance that the whole Teenage Cancer Trust team have displayed in the face of these changes has been exemplary and humbling. Our values are to put young people with cancer first and be determined, united, spirited and kind. This has shone out from every team member over the last month and I cannot thank them enough. 

Everyone is pulling together to make sure Teenage Cancer Trust can survive this crisis and be strong enough to thrive after it. We know young people with cancer need us more than ever and we must be there for them. We are also working with other charities across the children and young people’s cancer sector to make sure we all collaborate well.   

The Future 

For a short while, we will be a smaller organisation, but our singular focus on young people with cancer is stronger than ever.  

It’s a sobering thought that today, against a backdrop of national crisis, seven more young people and their families will be devastated by the words ‘you have cancer’. We cannot and must not let them face the challenge alone.  

Cancer doesn’t stop for anything – and neither will Teenage Cancer Trust. We’re doing everything that we can to ensure Teenage Cancer Trust can continue to be there for young people during this crisis, and beyond.  

With your support we can be unstoppable. Young people need us to be. 

Kate Collins
Chief Executive
Teenage Cancer Trust