A new counselling service for young people whose lives are affected by cancer has been set up thanks to the Isle of Wight Foundation.
Wessex Cancer Trust has been awarded nearly £6,000 by the foundation which has enabled the charity to provide outreach services at Island high schools.
This counselling encourages children to talk about their feelings, provide them with the skills to cope with their situation and the opportunity to meet others in a similar situation to help overcome feelings of isolation.
Counselling sessions will begin at Cowes Enterprise College and Christ The King this month.
Wessex Cancer Trust IW is one of the seven Island organisations this year to receive a grant from the IW Foundation which is made up of the partners behind Island Roads.
Each year The IW Foundation – comprising Ringway Island Roads, Meridiam, VINCI UK Foundation and VINCI Concession – gives grants of between £3,000 and £16,000 to Island charities, good causes and organisations working to tackle social exclusion and isolation. Since 2014, nearly half a million pounds has been given to such causes.
Welcoming the grant, Mike Sizer-Green, Centre Manager for the Island branch of the Wessex Cancer Trust, said: “We provide help to anyone affected by cancer by providing emotional and practical support to patients as well as helping families and friends.
“Although our newly refurbished centre in Newport provides adult counselling, and has helped over 5,000 since it launched, there is currently no other similar service for children on the Island. The IW Foundation grant has changed that by allowing us to introduce a new bespoke counselling service aimed specifically at young people aged 11-16.”
Under the project, trained children’s counsellors will provide weekly two-hour sessions in the familiar setting of the school for young people aged 11-16 who have a parent or close family member with cancer.
Groups will be up to ten pupils allowing a personal environment balanced with the opportunity to meet others for peer support. The centre staff, including therapist Maire Reeves, will also contribute to the wider curriculum in the school through PHSE lessons for the whole year group.
It is hoped that, in time, the service will be extended to all five Island high schools.
Under the foundation’s grant scheme, an Island Roads employee ‘sponsors’ the application from a group and then acts as a link to build an ongoing bond between the foundation and the recipient.
Island Roads data asset analyst Rachel Mills, who sponsored the Wessex Cancer Trust application, said: “By offering sessions in schools the pupils will be in a familiar environment and able to incorporate sessions within their normal school day as well as enabling participants to develop a support network of other pupils within their school.
“It is a wonderful new service and I am delighted that the IW Foundation has been able to help establish such a worthwhile cause.”
Wessex Cancer Trust, which also has branches in Hampshire and Dorset, is currently fighting to save its services, following the launch of a £600,000 crisis appeal in December.
The appeal has so far raised around £214,000.
To donate to the charity’s crisis appeal, go to www.justgiving.com/campaign/savewessexcancertrust