Why set up a new charity?
Every year approximately 2,600 sixteen to twenty four year olds are diagnosed with cancer in the UK. There is an increasing recognition that teenagers and young adults form a distinct group with specific needs. Clinical treatments have improved in the last forty years and survival rates now stand at well over 80%. Alongside the importance of continued clinical treatment progress, there is a growing focus on the psychosocial needs of young people following a cancer diagnosis. Three major studies published in recent years have addressed this area; two of these are from large UK charities working in the field; the other is a systematic review of the scientific literature published in English from 2000 to 2014.
The research shows that a cancer diagnosis during teenage and young adult years has a serious impact on emotional well-being and that the psychological and psychosocial needs of this group should be addressed alongside physical and clinical health care needs. The developmental tasks and challenges of this time of life relate to independence and lean towards the future. Serious and potentially life-limiting illness come as a particular kind of interruption and complication at this stage of life: the young person is thrown back into the dependence that they had been moving away from, peer relationships are upset and preoccupation with body image is heightened by the impacts of treatment and disease.
Providing opportunities for young people to meet with others who have similar experiences of cancer is now widely recommended through support groups, peer to peer opportunities, expressive therapies, technology-based and skills-based interventions. 73% of young people who participated in the Clic Sargent research said that talking to others with similar experiences helped them. Whilst there is evidence that psychosocial support is important there is a need for further research on what components of this support are most helpful.
Flynne’s Barn therefore aims to:
– Join other organisations in responding to the unmet needs of young people affected by cancer
– Provide residential stays that allow young people to connect over a longer period than many of the workshop-based opportunities that are currently available
– Bring together a range of recognised components of psychosocial support (community, education, art, music, horticulture, physical activity)
– Contribute to further knowledge and understanding in this field
Cancer Research UK (2017) Teenagers’ and young adults’ cancer statistics
Clic Sargent (2017) Hidden Costs: The mental health impact of a cancer diagnosis on young people
Teenage Cancer Trust (2016) The Blueprint of Care for teenagers and young adults with cancer
Warner et al (2016) Social Well-Being Among Adolescent and Young Adults With Cancer