Leeds Hospitals Charity is the lead NHS charity responsible for distributing the stage 2 funding in West Yorkshire and Harrogate on behalf of NHS Charities Together. In August 2021, Leeds Hospitals Charity received £1.1 million of NHSCT funding to support 22 projects across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. The projects were selected based on what we know will make the greatest impact and to support groups within our local community.

One of those chosen projects was delivered by Candlelighters, a charity supporting children and their families facing childhood cancer. Their mission is to bring light and hope to families affected by cancer by providing emotional, practical, and financial support, and funding vital research. Candlelighters received £52,000 to fund two Community Support Worker roles from August 2021 to July 2022, working across Yorkshire to provide this vital support to families closer to their homes.

The Community Support Workers ensure that families who are at home, either during treatment, post treatment, or if their child has sadly died, can access all the support available to them from Candlelighters without any geographical barriers. This includes 1-1 support for families and help building a local support network of other families affected by childhood cancer.

Lauren, one of the Community Support Workers, highlighted the importance of this role and explained, “We find that when families go home after being in hospital, they can often feel quite alone and isolated, but with a Community Support Worker by their side the families know they can call us, text us, email us at any point for support. The feedback we get from families is heartwarming - knowing that we’ve been able to provide a service for them that they really needed.”

We spoke to Lauren and Lori, Community Support Workers at Candlelighters about the their roles and the vital support they provide.

Tom Robertshaw, Head of Fundraising at Candlelighters, said, “The funding received from NHS Charities Together has been instrumental in delivering support to families across Yorkshire affected by childhood cancer. We decided to introduce the Community Support Worker roles after years of working with families and listening to their needs, but support like this is only possible thanks to grants, donations and fundraising from organisations and the local community. Thank you to NHS Charities Together, Leeds Hospitals Charity and everyone involved for helping make this project a reality.”

Candlelighters will be seeking out opportunities and approaching funders to ensure this vital service can continue going forward, in the meantime the Community Support Worker roles will still provide support to families across Yorkshire through charitable funding.

To find out more about the Community Support Worker for your area, contact [email protected]