I work for Hope Support Services, a national charity based in rural Herefordshire that supports young people aged 5-25 when a loved one is seriously ill with a condition such as cancer. Loved ones can be anyone from siblings to parents to grandparents to family friends: if the young person has been affected by them becoming seriously ill, they can apply to Hope for help. To date, Hope has supported over 650 young people from Aberdeenshire to East Sussex.
Hope offers a safe space filled with professionals and peers who understand the day-to-day burdens of living with someone who has a serious illness like cancer. Many young people in this situation act as carers for their loved one, attending regular appointments, missing school or struggling to focus and being isolated from the social life most young people take for granted. Many feel they have to keep ‘smaller’ things to themselves so their loved one doesn’t worry and don’t go out because they feel guilty that their loved one is stuck at home. Hope provides young people with those opportunities they have missed out on and supports them through the big and the small.
The charity runs a face-to-face service in Herefordshire, involving youth sessions and one-to-one support, as well as a national digital service. The youth sessions are run for ages 5-25 and take in many of the market towns of Herefordshire, where rural isolation can be a really big problem. At thes