Tuesday 29th September 2020

Survey of children and young people’s cancer charities finds: 

  • Black hole in lost income as £45m lost across surveyed members 
  •  Vital support services scaled back or stopped, as demand jumps by as much as 75%  
  • Fears for long-term impact on charities as 50% report future service delivery issues  

View the survey key points PDF (66kb) 

A survey conducted by the Children and Young People’s Cancer Coalition – a group of charities that support children and young people with cancer and their families - has revealed that collectively, their income has plummeted by as much as 60%. This has led to peer-to-peer support and advice events, sibling support groups and schemes that allow families to keep in contact during treatment, being scaled back or stopped altogether. 

One charity reported having to vacate its newly completed, purpose-built support centre after 14 years of fundraising for it. This, along with restrictions in schools and hospitals, has created a barrier to charity service delivery, meaning children with cancer and their families, are receiving no, little or inconsistent support. 

The leaders in children and young people’s cancer care are calling on the Government to prevent these services being lost altogether by providing emergency relief for all, or part, of the £45m they have lost to coronavirus. 

With the resurgence of coronavirus cases and restrictions now being heightened, the survey is a ‘wake-up call,’ highlighting the challenges cancer charities face at a time of great uncertainty. The Coalition also found that: 

  • Coronavirus had affected the annual income of nearly all charities (23 of 24) with the proportion of lost income for most estimated to be between 30-60% 
  • 66% of respondents couldn’t access any Government support and of those that did, only four said it was enough to ‘help them cope’ 
  • Organisations had to stop some services, whilst others have had to scale them down in order to keep them going 
  • 65% of respondents have been seeing an increase in demand for their services since the coronavirus emergency. Most felt this increase was between 50-75% more than usual  
  • All respondents said that their ability to deliver services will be affected by coronavirus - 50% reported longer term impact and of those remaining, the majority anticipate an effect in the next 9 or 12 months 

Every day 11 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer in the UK - over 4,000 diagnoses every year – and the Coalition’s 40 members provide essential services that address the individual needs of children, young people and their family.  

Kate Collins, Chair of the Children and Young People’s Cancer Coalition and Chief Executive of Teenage Cancer Trust, said: 

“Charities across the sector have shown incredible strength and determination throughout the coronavirus pandemic, doing all they can to provide essential support for young people and their families.  

“However, overnight, coronavirus wiped out a calendar full of fundraising events and six months on, and with little sign of change, the children and young people’s cancer sector faces the true reality of the pandemic – an estimated (collective) black hole of at least £45m*, against a backdrop of increased patient need. 

“Left unaddressed, the consequences for children and young people are unimaginable. There will considerable gaps in services, leaving them and their families without vital support and all at a time when they need it the most.” 

Earlier this month, NHS England announced it will be developing a Cancer Recovery Plan – a Plan which the Coalition say is a welcome step in the right direction but does not address the challenges that charities currently face.  

Kate said: “Children and young people have their own unique set of needs and the services that these charities provide ensure these needs are met.   

“The Cancer Recovery Plan is incredibly important for the sustainability of cancer services in the long-term, but without direct and targeted support for children, young people and their families, these charity-led services risk slipping away before the Plan materialises. That’s why this emergency, on-off cash injection is needed.”  

Despite the challenges of coronavirus, through its survey, the Children and Young People’s Cancer Coalition identified some positive outcomes that have been achieved as a result of having to adapt.  

Kate said: “I, like many of my Coalition colleagues have been humbled by the determination, dedication and creativity of our dedicated teams. Within hours of the pandemic breaking, they worked together, across the sector, to adapt services and to overcome digital challenges to provide effective online programmes. Many of these programmes will become permanent fixtures, allowing our services to reach more vulnerable children and young people in areas previously untouched or hard to reach.” 

Despite facing personal challenges of their own, the public have used the pandemic as an opportunity to come together – virtually or otherwise - to continue to support causes close to their heart. 

“I am always astounded by the generosity of the public but over the last six months it has been incredible seeing everyone’s stand in solidarity with the NHS and their chosen charities.” Kate said. 

“Children and young people with cancer and their families have never needed us more. On behalf of the Coalition, and at a time as poignant as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I want to thank our supporters whose donations make our work possible. I urge them to continue to do all they can to help the charities that support this vulnerable group so young people and their families get the standard of care they deserve.”