A six-year-old girl who had Christmas ruined by cancer is starring in a national charity’s Christmas campaign to show the harsh reality of Christmas for families stuck in hospital over the festive period – and to help other children and young people living with cancer.

CLIC Sargent’s Christmas campaign features five families supported by the charity and real-life scenarios of children facing Christmas in hospital.

The idea behind the concept was to show what can be the stark truth of Christmas with cancer – and how the charity can help families stay together through its Homes from Home service and support from social workers – to make the most of the magical season for children.

Matilda Fisher stars in CLIC Sargent’s national campaign

Rachel Kirby-Rider, Director of Income and Engagement at CLIC Sargent, said:

“Christmas is a magical time for families to enjoy all the lovely things about being together during the festive season – decorating the house, a visit to Santa’s Grotto and, most of all, being together with your family. But when you’re going through cancer treatment at Christmas, all these things are at risk.

“CLIC Sargent’s Christmas campaign in 2019 highlights how cancer costs Christmas, by demonstrating what the festive period looks like for a child when they’re going through cancer treatment, and the impact it has on the wider family who are often separated.

“Our work helps to stop cancer cancelling Christmas. We work with hospitals to get children home for Christmas if medically possible. And if a child has to be in hospital over the festive period, we help to make the most of Christmas with their family and we invite families to stay for free in one of our Homes from Home near hospitals, so they can be close to their child.”

Matilda Fisher stars in the campaign alongside Jason, Amber, Suki and Heidi – who all also have been supported by CLIC Sargent. Matilda spent Christmas Day in hospital in 2016 during her first year of treatment and had an emergency operation on Christmas Eve in 2018. The family were supported by CLIC Sargent and stayed in CLIC House, one of the charity’s Homes from Home in Bristol.

Adam Petrie, Associate Director of Brand and Marketing Communications, said:

“This year’s campaign is harder hitting than previous CLIC Sargent Christmas campaigns. What last year’s concept didn’t show was the harsh reality of what Christmas can be like for kids going through cancer treatment – not being at home to decorate the tree, having to put their stocking at the end of a hospital bed rather than their own, and eating Christmas dinner with your parents perched on the side of your bed on the ward.

“Christmas is a magical time for just a few short years, and children shouldn’t be robbed of that. We expect our portrayal of how cancer cancels Christmas will be uncomfortable for some to see. But we feel it’s important to share with how cancer can spoil the lovely bits of Christmas most people take for granted.”

The campaign films features four scenarios: a child imagining Christmas at home before opening her eyes to find she is in hospital; a family enjoying Christmas dinner seemingly at home only to find it’s being eaten from a hospital bed; a boy decorating what appears to be a tree which turns out to be his drip stand, and a girl attaching something to her bed which is revealed to be a Christmas stocking on her hospital bed.

Matilda Fisher

Adam concluded:

“In developing the campaign, we wanted to make sure the content didn’t portray children as vulnerable. That’s not CLIC Sargent, and we don’t believe it’s authentic. Kids will be kids and they’ll always make the best of whatever is thrown at them, so the content shows how they improvise in celebrating Christmas even when cancer has cancelled what Christmas should be like for them.

“We’ve also used real former cancer patients who have been supported by CLIC Sargent, rather than actors. Many of the scenarios depicted in the campaign are a direct visual representation of what families told us Christmas was like for them when their child was on treatment at Christmas.”

To find out more about CLIC Sargent’s Christmas campaign and to support please visit: www.clicsargent.org.uk/christmas.