Health, disability & well-being

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000


“Having cancer so young is very, very lonely” (Shine online survey respondent”)

“2013 was our first Shine camping experience. If I’m honest, I thought it was going to be depressing, but everyone was so upbeat and positive that it made it much easier to talk about my mum’s diagnosis. It’s taken a load off my chest and was so much fun!”

Every year, 30,000 adults aged 25 to 49 in the UK are diagnosed with cancer. That’s ten times the number of children and teenagers diagnosed with the disease annually - but this group gets very little attention or support either clinically or psychologically.

Since 2008, Shine Cancer Support has worked to support younger adults with cancer with fun and innovative activities that fit in with their lifestyle. In addition to our 11 in-person networks and our growing online community, we also run “Shine Camp” every August.

Shine Camp is unique in that it provides an opportunity for young adults who have experienced a cancer diagnosis (and may be going through treatment or in palliative care) to spend time with their partners, children, and friends while also meeting others who understand what they’re going through. It’s not just the young adults who get support; many of the children who attend find comfort and friendship by talking to others whose parents have been ill. Shine Camp also provides an opportunity for the partners of younger adults to chat together, share experiences, and learn from one another.

Since we began Shine Camp in 2009, it has grown hugely. We started with 17 people the first year; in 2014 we hosted more than 100 people near Corfe Castle in Dorset. We’d like this year to be even bigger and better! With additional support, we’ll be able to create a stronger community and host more young adults and their friends and families.

In 2015, we’re aiming to have 150 people camp between Friday 7th August and Monday 10th August 2015. With support from Aviva, we’ll be able to have children’s activities (including volleyball and sack races) on Saturday afternoon; a communal cook-out on Saturday night with music and a bonfire; a pancake breakfast on Sunday; and a guided walk to Corfe Castle on Sunday afternoon. The camp is organised and run by two part-time staff at Shine, as well as an army of volunteers, most of whom are young adults with cancer themselves.

The people Shine helps frequently fall between the gaps in cancer support. Too old for children and teenage services, but too young for traditional cancer support activities, many young adults with cancer feel isolated and lonely. For their partners, friends, family and children there is also little support available. A camping trip might seem like a simple solution to the complex problems facing young adults with cancer but we know it makes a difference. We’ve been told that being at Shine Camp can be transformational and provides an opportunity to forget some of the difficulties facing those who attend:

Ella* (14, whose mother had breast cancer) told us in 2013: “I was a bit scared about coming but people were really kind. I made some good friends and it was nice to talk to people who have been through the same situation as me. I can’t wait until next year and hope I can see everyone again!”.

Martha* and her husband told us: “Shine camp was fantastic. A beautiful place, beautiful people. It was our first Shine Camp but definitely not last!”

A £5,000 grant from Aviva’s Community Fund would help us to pay for: a private field (£3,000), food (£800), a marquee (£400), portaloos (£400) and travel bursaries to support the attendance of those who are benefits/sick leave (£200).

Shine Camp supports Shine’s broader work to build a UK-wide community of young adults with cancer while allowing them to feel normal, have fun, and spend time with those who ‘get it’. Aviva’s support will mean that we can continue to grow and build this community in a way that works (and is fun!).

Project Video

Shine Cancer Support

Moment of Pride

We are proud of this organisation as before Shine there was little support for people going through such a lonely time. The groups provide a support network where issues can be discussed and amazing support given to find strength together. Shine - somewhere safe,to be honest, to empower and support.

Location: Dorset, United Kingdom