Health, disability & well-being

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000

Submitted by: Infinity Insurance Solutions


“I wasn’t expecting to laugh as much as I did. It’s been a really uplifting day” (Shine Connect participant 2016)

There are 210,000 men and women in their 20s, 30s and 40s who are living with cancer in the UK. Too old for specialist programmes aimed at children and teenagers, but too young for mainstream cancer support programmes, these young adults fall into a devastating “cancer support gap” and face many unique challenges. Five-year survival rates for young adults have not improved since the 1980s, lagging behind improvements experienced by children and older adults. Young adults with cancer suffer from significantly higher rates of major depression than older individuals, and a cancer diagnosis also has the ability to derail career plans. A 2012 Shine survey found that 50% of respondents were unable to work in the same way as before their diagnosis.

Since 2008, Shine has worked to fill this support gap and to provide younger adults with cancer with innovative activities that fit in with their lifestyle. In addition to our 11 in-person support groups and our growing online community, we run national events, including the UK’s only conference for young adults with cancer, “Shine Connect”.

Run for the first time in 2016, Shine Connect is a unique opportunity for young adults who have experienced a cancer diagnosis to meet others who understand what they’re going through and to access the information and support that they need to live well with cancer.

In 2016, we hosted 100 conference participants. 100% of our attendees rated the day as either fantastic or very good overall, with the opportunity to meet other young adults with cancer cited as one of the most important benefits of the event.

In 2017, we’d like the conference to be bigger and better! With additional support, we’ll be able to host 140 people and to expand the conference to include the partners and family members of young adults with cancer. We will also include include the nurses, doctors and cancer support specialists who care for younger adults with cancer but often have little understanding of their needs. Held on 20 May 2017 in Central London, Shine Connect will feature experts on managing anxiety and the future of cancer research, as well as innovative sessions such as channelling creativity after a diagnosis.

Two part-time staff and an army of volunteers, most of who are young adults with cancer themselves, will run Shine Connect. The benefits of this event will go far beyond those who attend. In addition to the direct participants, the families and friends of attendees will benefit through information and improved support, while health professionals will gain a deeper understanding of how they can support young adults with cancer. The conference will also enable Shine’s 11 support groups to come together, further strengthening our community. Using social media, we will document the day, ensuring that the benefits of the event can reach those who are unable to attend.

Shine Connect 2016 was a transformative day that provided a rare opportunity for young adults to support one another and to forget some of the difficulties that they’re facing. Participants told us:
• The panel discussion with young adults with cancer was really fantastic, funny and honest – I haven’t seen anything like this before. It was amazing!
• It was a fantastic day! I learned so much!

A £10,000 grant from Aviva’s Community Fund would help us to cover all of the costs of the event, including the venue hire, refreshments and tech support (£9,300); the costs of travel bursaries for those who are on benefits (£200); promotion (£200); and support costs to manage the event (£300).

Shine Connect supports Shine’s broader work to build a UK-wide community of young adults with cancer. Aviva’s support will mean that we can continue to grow and build this community in a way that works (and is fun!).

Shine Cancer Support

Location: London

Shine Connect is the only event of its kind. It was a tremendous event in 2016 and made a real, lasting difference to those who attended. We're proud to be involved with an organisation that works so hard make sure that the needs of this often forgotten community of young adults are supported.
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