We are delighted to have been able to support our Social Worker for Teenagers & Young Adults during the past year in providing vital services to young people affected by cancer. More than 70 teenagers and young adults are diagnosed with cancer in Northern Ireland each year, and for those who are treated at the NI Cancer Centre, Laurena and her TYA colleagues are on hand to guide them through treatment and beyond.
Recognising the impact that the pandemic was having, with many of these young people becoming isolated and unable to socialise due to their treatment, Laurena wanted to provide a regular programme of social activities especially for this important group.
With funding provided from the charity, over the last number of months, Laurena has provided a series of Zoom virtual events which have included a mind-boggling night of entertainment from mind reader, illusionist and mentalist David Meade, Drag Bingo with Charlie Hides, Halloween cupcake baking with the Daily Apron and Christmas Cracker making with Arts Care. Laurena has also helped facilitate a number of Look Good Feel Better grooming and make-up workshops during the last year.
All the events have been very well received, and we would like to say a huge thankyou to everyone who has given of their time to facilitate – David, Charlie, Cathy, Vanessa, Katrina and Anne. We would also like to give a special mention to Callum Kane who has designed promotional materials for all the events, to all the businesses who sponsored prizes for the bingo event, and to Donna Agius who donated a Christmas wreath which was won by a young person at the Christmas event.
2021 was rounded off with a very successful trip for the B+ (Be Positive) group to the magical Christmas lights at Hillsborough Castle.
Looking ahead into 2022, there are already plans in place for an Art Therapy Session with Joanne Boal from Cancer Focus, focusing on positive horizons for the year ahead, and an exciting virtual games night facilitated by Tagvenue. Laurena will also be teaming up with organisations in the area of mental health and wellbeing to deliver a series of workshops, offering the young people a toolkit of techniques and experiences to help support their mental health. The team will also be working with The Conservation Volunteers to introduce young people to the Green Gym.
We would like to say a huge thank you to the TYA team, and especially to Laurena, for the time and energy put into making these events such a success and so worthwhile for our young patients and their families.