The City of London Corporation’s charitable arm, City Bridge Trust, has awarded £254,000 to a project helping families to deal with the financial impact of cancer in young people.

When cancer strikes young lives, charity CLIC Sargent steps in with its Cancer Costs programme, based at the University College London Hospital (UCLH) in Camden. It works to ensure that families don’t face huge financial worries as well as dealing with the illness.

Young cancer patients face many physical and emotional challenges, often over a period of several years, and sometimes even for the rest of their lives.

With the funding, the charity’s Social Care Team will help families access grant-funding as well as providing advice and support around benefits, bills, employment and housing.

Last year, CLIC Sargent’s UCLH team supported 454 children and young people with cancer, including Tyler, whose family of six was supported by the charity’s Social Worker at another London hospital.

Tyler in hospital

The same month he turned 13, Tyler was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Tyler’s mum, Sue, tells his story:

“Hearing the word ‘cancer’ was the last thing I expected.

“Tyler’s first chemo didn’t do anything so they had to put him on a really intensive course (he had 6 courses). Because it was so intense he had to stay in hospital the whole time. He had a lot of side effects – he lost all his hair, he was really badly sick, he got pneumonia, and he lost a lot of weight because would struggle to eat or drink.”

The family struggled financially during treatment. It cost them £43 a week to visit Tyler. Sue was with him all day and night, and his stepdad, who had to give up work to look after the family’s three other siblings, could only afford to visit them twice a week.

Sue added:

“Tyler could only eat certain things so it was quite expensive it had to be whatever he fancied that day or he wouldn’t eat. We got behind on a lot of bills and had to manage on tax credits for six people which was hard.”

Their CLIC Sargent Social Worker, Jan, helped them with the costs of cancer.

Sue continued:

“She offered us a grant of £170 and told us about support from other charities which was a massive help with our debts piling up.

“We got on really well and if I had any worries I could text her or phone her. When I was struggling, I could just talk to her easily and it really helped.

“It would have been much harder without Jan, I don’t know what we would have done without her.”

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said:

“CLIC Sargent’s support is vitally important to the many young Londoners and their families learning to live and cope with cancer.

“This essential work provides access to financial advice and support before families hit crisis point, helping them avoid falling into unnecessary and unmanageable debt.

“City Bridge Trust is committed to tackling disadvantage and inequality in London, and we will continue to support charities making the capital a better place in which to live.”

Helen McShane, Director of Services at CLIC Sargent, said:

“Our research shows that families typically spend £600 more per month while their child has cancer, at a time when income usually goes down.

“City Bridge Trust’s funding is vital to ensuring our social care teams can support London’s families with the costs of cancer.”

City Bridge Trust is the funding arm of the City of London Corporation’s charity, Bridge House Estates.

It is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of £20 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital.

The Trust has awarded around 8,000 grants totalling over £400 million since it first began in 1995. It helps achieve the City Corporation’s aim of changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.