Support with Young Children
A cancer diagnosis will inevitably have a big impact on family life. Particular issues – both emotional and practical – can arise for families with young children / teenagers.
In this section we provide information about local and national sources of support for families with young children and for the children themselves.
Talking to children about cancer
There are a range of resources offering information and support around talking to children of various ages about cancer, and also helping children themselves to talk about cancer.
The ‘Fruit Fly Collective’ is a small team of researchers and artists who have worked together to produce an excellent small animation which aims to support parents/carers when they decide to tell their children about their cancer diagnosis.
The same team has also produced a comic book entitled ‘Telling your child you have cancer’.
Macmillan Cancer Support has a section on its website which aims to help parents and other close family members talk to children about cancer. The organisation also produces a booklet ‘Talking to Children when an Adult has Cancer’ which can be ordered free of charge from the Macmillan website or obtained from your local Macmillan Information and Support Centre.
Cancer Research UK also provides useful online information around talking to children about cancer.
Riprap is a website that has been developed especially for teenagers who have a parent with cancer. It provides teenagers with an opportunity to learn more about cancer and its treatment and through sharing experiences and stories with other young people in similar situations they can see how this might affect them and their family. The site includes a discussion forum.
Meic is a helpline service for children and young people up to the age of 25 in Wales. Meic aims to help young people deal with a difficult situation, and will listen at a time when it may be hard to talk with family or friends.
Practical support for families
Coping with the everyday demands of family life can become a real challenge if a parent /carer is affected by cancer. Many people will have the support of relatives, friends and their local community. The links below may also prove useful:
Local social services may be able to offer advice and information on childcare services in your area, including childminders, nurseries and out of school care.
Home-Start UK is a National charity whose trained volunteers can offer practical and emotional support to families with young children during difficult circumstances. Volunteers are able to visit the family for a couple of hours each week and their support can be tailor-made to meet the needs of the family.
0800 068 63 68 (FREEPHONE)
The Osborne Trust provides children aged 16 years and under, whose parent/s have cancer, access to recreational activities during a parent/s treatment by funding up to 3 activities such as a cinema trip, play centre visit or a meal out. Activities are supervised by an adult family member or friend. The aim is to offer the parent/s some rest and the children some time away from all that cancer entails.
A referral form is available on the Trust website and should be completed alongside a member of the healthcare team. For more information:
The Trust was launched in 2014 by Emma Osborne after her cancer diagnosis aged 36 years and evolved from the families own experience of how they dealt with the situation, what worked and what they found lacking in terms of family support. The Trust runs a number of fundraisers across the year and are always looking for support. Every £1 raised goes fully to the Trust to where it matters most the families.
Money and benefits may become a concern for families affected by cancer due to unexpected expenses and the need for additional childcare. There may be some additional benefits that you can apply for such as Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. Please refer to our section on Money and Benefits.
If a young person is involved in caring for a parent / family member affected by cancer, there are local organisations that will be able to offer support.
Please go to our section on Young Carers for more information.
When someone is seriously ill
An increasing number of people are surviving cancer. However, a child or young person will need to be told if someone close to them is not going to get better. Every individual and family will deal with grief in their own way but support for children / young people is there if needed:
Cruse (North Wales) Children and Young People’s Service
Cruse Bereavement Care exists to promote the well-being of bereaved people, supporting them to understand their grief and cope with their loss.
Cruse in the North Wales area provides a service specifically for children and young people. It offers one to one support from a volunteer specifically trained to understand the way children react to loss and to help them work through their grief. The service also offers information and advice for parents / carers teachers or anyone involved with children who have been bereaved or who may be anticipating the loss of someone close to them.
For referrals or further information please contact:
Cruse Bereavement Care
St David’s Priory
0844 561 7856
The National organisation has a FREEPHONE helpline for children and young people;
0808 808 1677 ( Mon-Fri 9.30am-5pm )
Cruse has also developed an interactive website specifically designed for young people by young people to offer support after the death of someone close:
Family Support Service (St Asaph)
St Kentigern Hospice has a Family Support Service which offers advice and support for children and young people up to the age of 25 years who may be dealing with bereavement or pre-bereavement.
For more details please contact:
Child Bereavement UK App
It has been developed for 11-25 year olds who have been bereaved of someone important to them. It can also be used by friends, teachers, parents and professionals who would like to know how to support bereaved young people.
The app has information about:
- how others can help
It includes a built-in notepad so you can write down how you are feeling and also links to Child Bereavement UK’s website where you can use search facilities to find other support organisations near you.
It includes stories from bereaved young people as well as short films that they have written and made. The app aims to help bereaved young people feel less alone and to inspire others on how to support them.
The Marie Curie website offers useful signposts to sources of information and support for children and young people who have a close family member who is seriously ill. The organisation also produces a booklet ‘Talking to Children when someone close is very ill’.
‘Winston’s Wish’ is a national charity offering practical help and guidance for anyone who is concerned about a child who is dealing with the serious illness of a parent or close family member.
Information on the website includes details of their publication ‘As Big as it Gets’ which is about supporting a child when a parent is seriously ill. There is a wider reading list of recommended books for children and young people of various ages and a free download ‘Helping a Child when Someone has Died’.
Helpline: 08452 03 04 05
The line is open from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm and Wednesday evening from 7pm to 9.30pm. Calls are charged at the local rate.