Yorkshire children’s cancer charity, Candlelighters, has been supporting children with cancer and their families for more than 45 years.
Support is offered in various ways – emotional financial and practical, as well as investment in vial research. Donations which are received from the generous public are spent in ways which meet the needs and wants of the children. To help achieve this, a series of innovative events has recently been held, where patients past and present, together with their siblings, to give feedback on the support they have received or are receiving.
In West Yorkshire Little Deer Wood Activity Centre was the venue and saw children engage in activities, sharing thoughts on each aspect of Candlelighters’ support. Children were able to join orienteering and a treasure hunt as well as archery.
Natalie Kisby, Head of Family Support at Candlelighters: “It’s really important to us that children’s ideas and opinions form part of our future planning. Our services are designed to support them and their families, so it’s only right that they are able to take part in the design of what we do to ensure that our services and support deliver what is needed for children and their families. The Young Dreamers community days were hugely successful, the children gave us so many ideas and feedback and they really enjoyed taking part in the planning events and importantly all had a wonderful day.”
Some of the children who attended took the opportunity to apply for their ‘dream job’ at Candlelighters, which meant any role, whether as CEA or a support worker or housekeeper. They were able to take on their roles for a day at The Square, which is Candlelighters’ family support centre. From this came more ideas and more feedback. It was a chance to meet key people on the team as well as Associate Professor Ryan Mathew, finding out about his role as a neurosurgeon who treats patients with brain tumours and progressing research into the disease.
The children then went to work in their chosen department, experiencing a taste of working for the charity. Charlie McCann from Cleckheaton, Hermione Leach from Elland, Ella Hargreaves from Cookridge and Anya and Oscar Morris from Wortley joined the Family Support Team, helping to plan out upcoming patient and sibling support groups and events. Edward Wray from Skipton took on the role of CEO, meeting with Vice Chair David Mayman to help review the charity’s strategies and plans. Other children helped the fundraising team devise new ways to raise funds and thank supporters, whilst Isla Greenwood from Wakefield spent time doing film and photography with the marketing team and preparing content to promote the charity’s Christmas cards and upcoming raffle, and Erin Morris from Wortley took on the role of HR manager, adding to the charity’s interview questions and developing new staff wellbeing ideas.
The day was rounded off with the annual Halloween party with the Young Dreamers and many other children it supports. Staff explained that such events are crucial for wellbeing, for children to simply enjoy being children in the midst of all they have to deal with.
Emily Wragg, CEO of Candlelighters: “The Young Dreamers events and takeover day have been absolutely amazing. We set out to create a child-friendly way for children to be involved in the strategic planning process for Candlelighters and to educate them on the importance of the third sector and how it works. We’ll continue to run more Young Dreamers events to ensure we have a continual feedback mechanism from children to take to our board of trustee’s to help make decisions about the direction of the charity. We hope that the Young Dreamers programme will mean that in time, some of these children will be able to join our board and those of other charities as they grow older to use their experiences and knowledge to help secure the future of an important sector. I want to say a huge thank you to the children that have taken part in Young Dreamers. Amongst a lot of fun days they’ve given us a huge amount of feedback and ideas to think about to continually improve Candlelighters. I loved spending time with my group of mini CEO’s on our takeover day. I knew I was in for a challenge when they arrived equipped with their own laptops and notebooks and they certainly put me through my paces!”
Patron: Lady Ingilby
The Candlelighters Trust is a registered charity and supports the Regional Adolescent and Children’s Cancer and Haematology Unit in Leeds.
email: [email protected]
Tel: 0113 247 0372
Photographs: Young Dreamers at Ripley Castle. Charlotte Hedgecock Photography.