Alongside the remarkable generosity of the Emma Maltby Memorial Fund, Leeds Hospitals Charity has been able to support the work of two Oncology Learning Mentors on the cancer wards at Leeds Children’s Hospital and the Young Adult Unit at Leeds Cancer Centre since 2019.

The learning mentors are part of the Medical Needs Teaching Service and support young people from five years old up to the age of 25.

For children and young adults on the wards, the mentors offer engagement sessions, including art, music, and other activities to encourage social interaction. The mentors also offer remote sessions and tailored support, for example helping a young adult with prepare a job application or applying for education funding.

The vital work of the learning mentors has been made possible thanks to the Emma Maltby Memorial Fund. The charity was set up in Emma’s memory by her family soon after she died in 2003 with the aim of helping to provide educational support to children, teenagers and young adults living with cancer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals.

Janie Stevens, who founded the Emma Maltby Memorial Fund after Emma died from cancer at the age of 38, said:

“I think our motto says it all really 'Living and Learning with Cancer'. Education is of vital importance to these young cancer sufferers, it gives them another focus from their illness and allows them to stay in touch with their peers, helping them to move forward under such difficult circumstances.”

Emma’s family were recently invited to an afternoon tea in the Learning Zone at Leeds Children’s Hospital and were presented with a special plaque by staff to commemorate their fundraising efforts over almost two decades.

The Emma Maltby Learning Fund helped to establish and support the Oncology Learning Mentors through tireless fundraising since 2003. In 2019, Leeds Hospitals Charity took over the funding of the two roles, alongside continued support from The Emma Maltby Memorial Fund.

Most recently, thanks to your donations, we funded the two posts in 2021-22. This has helped gather significant evidence to demonstrate the impact of the learning mentors to the Local Education Authority who have agreed to fund the roles in the future.

A new learning mentor, Catherine, will join the team in September to continue supporting young cancer patients in hospital with their education, alongside existing mentor, Joe.

Catherine is really looking forward to helping young people continue to learn when they are sadly unable to attend school because of their treatment:

“When the opportunity to become a Specialised Learning Mentor arose, there was no way I could let it pass me by. To work with such inspirational young people, along with their families, is something I feel honoured to be involved in. I cannot wait to start the role in September and give it my absolute all.”