A haven for young people aged 10-35 whose lives have been affected by cancer sits in the heart of Westgate – and Thanet families are being urged to make use of it.
Youth cancer service YouCan runs a 4-bed home in Station Road that is used exclusively to give respite to families, groups and friends that are dealing with the impact of cancer.
The project, which was formed just over two years ago, is part of The Children’s Development Trust charity with the aim of supporting young people across the south east with respite, counselling and a range of programmes.
The house, bought in 2016 for some £285,000, underwent a year of renovation works to create a bright, comfortable holiday home equipped with an adapted room to make it accessible for people of all abilities and disabilities.
Since Hinton House was opened last June it has been used by some 30 families and groups but east Kent coordinator and Thanet resident Terrie Kennor said she would like to see more isle youngsters making use of the service.
Terrie said: “It is such an asset for local people. If residents know someone that could possibly be helped by us then I would like to hear from them. My aim is to raise awareness of what we do and can offer young people going through the trauma of cancer.
“We work with young people aged 10 to 35 who have been impacted by cancer. We work with schools who have pupils who have a parent who has cancer or has died from cancer and are struggling with that loss or illness.
“We have children referred from schools who we then offer a 12 week programme of support, although that 12 weeks could turn into six or even 12 months.”
The project is currently working with one isle family suffering the loss of a grandmother in her 40s. A daughter in her 20s with young children was struggling to be the main support of the whole family. She is now receiving counselling and her children are getting help including art therapy sessions.
The family will also be able to take a respite break at the Westgate house, giving them a chance to enjoy some time together without every day stresses.
Terrie said: “YouCan pays for the holidays, it costs around £500 per week which includes things like all the utilities and little extras like we leave tickets for Quex and a £20 pass for the Carlton cinema.”
YouCan also holds wellbeing weekends, organises fitness and health programmes as well as the therapies in art, music, reiki, reflexology, nutrition courses and more.
Terrie said: “We recently hosted 10 young people for a wellness weekend at Stourmouth House, giving them workshops and the chance to be with other people going through the same problems as them. There was reiki, nutrition information, wig and make up workshops. It is all about building self esteem and helping youngsters get back to fitness and learn about eating healthily.
“ The weekend was quite life-changing for some of the young people with some returning to work or getting new jobs and one going off to university.”
The Children’s Development Trust paid for the Westgate house but the YouCan team worked to raise money for the renovations and equipment and the day to day running of the property.
They have been helped by numerous isle groups, including Rotary organisations that have donated something close to £10,000 which has paid for work including conversions for disability access. A team from Nandos in London is due to come in and overhaul the garden and create and art therapy space outside.
DW Fitness, The Gym, the Friends of Shelby Newstead trust fund and Bunnings have also stepped in to help the YouCan team in their bid to raise some £6,000 which would pay for families and groups to stay at the house over the next 12 months.
The Gym will be holding an Easter egg collection with all the eggs going to families using the YouCan programme.
On April 6, between 10am and 4pm, Bunnings will host a fundraiser with the four staff of the YouCan team, and customers of the store, paying £1 to use the static bike to ‘complete’ a Viking Trail journey. The Gym is providing the bikes.
The big fundraiser of the year will be an actual ride on the 32 mile Viking Trail on Sunday, May 13. The aim is to have 100 cyclists take part paying an entry fee of £20 each.
The ride starts at 8.30am and participants are asked to have a minimum fundraising target of £50. All the money will be used to pay for stays at Hinton House, therapies, counselling and help programmes.
To enter the ride go to www.youcan,org.uk/youcan-ride