Since 2017, Morrisons has been in partnership with CLIC Sargent in a bid to raise £10 million for young lives facing cancer. The partnership has already raised an amazing £6 million, meaning CLIC Sargent has been able to support thousands of families following a cancer diagnosis.
Morrisons’ colleague Christmas card
This year, like every year, Morrisons gives out Christmas cards to all 107,000 staff members to say thanks for their hard work. To date, Morrisons staff and customers have raised more than £6 million for CLIC Sargent, making it the biggest charity partnership to date. And we wanted to recognise that work, by inviting CLIC Sargent children and young people to help design their colleague Christmas card.
Five talented youngsters contributed a design for one of six baubles on the card, which is also on sale in stores as a single Hallmark card – with the whole £2 sale price going to CLIC Sargent.
Below is a short story about each of the children who helped design this year’s card:
Matilda was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in April 2017, when she was just five. Her mother struggled to manage the regular two-hour round trip to Leeds General Infirmary from the family home in North Yorkshire, all while looking after Matilda’s two siblings (and a baby on the way). Because she had to give up work to look after Matilda full time, the family were plunged into debt.
Mum Rebecca said: “You’re trying to manage all your finances between endless doctors’ appointments and hospital visits. I sometimes had to hold Matilda down for procedures, which really upset me. I was also worrying about the baby I was carrying; I was sleeping in a cot bed at the hospital, and worrying if I was eating right for the baby.’’
But thanks to Morrisons, CLIC Sargent was able to help. Morrisons paid for two grants to get the family back on their feet. When their tumble dryer broke, they had to dry eight washes a day in front of the fire. But a Morrisons grant meant they could buy a new dryer.
Matilda’s now on maintenance treatment, but the family still receives emotional, financial and practical support from CLIC Sargent.
Emili was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in July 2017. At just 8 years old, she began intensive treatment immediately. The youngster from Bolton needed steroids, which left her constantly hungry, and she gained so much weight that she needed a whole new wardrobe. Emili will remain on treatment until September 2019 to ensure all the cancer is gone.
Mum, Ruta, said: “At first I asked ‘What have I done wrong for my daughter to get this illness?’. It was very very difficult to cope with, but CLIC Sargent have done so much for my family. Emili was so upset to lose her hair, but CLIC Sargent gave her a little doll with a wig and that helped her so much. We all shaved our heads too, to show we were supporting her.”
Emili’s family also received a CLIC Sargent grant, funded thanks to Morrisons. Ruta added: “It was so needed because I had given up work to care for Emili. We used it to keep Emili fed while she was on steroids, because she craved really expensive foods. One fortnight she refused everything but salmon!”
Jude, forever 12
Jude’s design was created in hospital last Christmas, just eight months after the 12-year-old was diagnosed with bone cancer. It was his last Christmas, as sadly Jude died in February this year. But his loving family desperately wanted his design to be included as he was a tireless fundraiser, and they take great comfort from the idea that he is still helping others even after his death.
Mum Helen said: “We miss him every day, there’s a big hole in our lives. Jude loved life, he was a real presence, he was a lovely boy and we just miss him.’’
“CLIC Sargent has just been amazing from the first day we walked on the ward, to realising that Jude wasn’t going to get better. Even now they still support us; our social worker Josanne is just lovely and an integral part of the team. She helped with all the forms we had to fill in, such as applying for Disability Living Allowance and getting grants. When this all started and I had to give up work I thought we were going to lose our house. When we were in hospital we saw her at least every other day – I can’t tell you what a support they are.”
Lucy was 11 when she started being sick every week. After she went blind for a few seconds one day, her mum took her for an eye test. What followed was a brain tumour diagnosis, 12 operations and six years of treatment – including proton beam therapy in the USA.
“It was life-changing” said mum Adele. “I can’t put into words how I felt the day she was diagnosed. Until you’ve been there, you can’t understand how it feels. I was just devastated. Lucy coped better than any of us. She’s amazing.”
The family have had help from CLIC Sargent, who provided Adele with grants so she could cope with the costs of living in hospital such as food, parking and petrol when her other children were visiting. Six years later, they are still receiving emotional support as Lucy needs regular monitoring. Despite her operations, 30% of the tumour remains where it is too dangerous to operate, but her recent scans show it’s not growing.
Megan Dickie, forever 12
Megan was a sporty young girl who loved life and whose only wish was to be a dog trainer. After she was diagnosed, her wish changed. She desperately wanted to get to secondary school. In August this year, despite being gravely ill, she started secondary school in Buckie, Scotland and spent two and a half days with her new class.
Sadly, Megan died on 5 September, 18 months after she was diagnosed with an aggressive tumour in her spine. Her mum, Gemma, described her as “an amazing girl” and said she was delighted that her design will now help raise money for other young people with cancer.
Gemma added: “It still doesn’t seem real. We have to keep going for her sister, Katie. CLIC Sargent have helped us through it. Our CLIC Sargent social worker Laura is sometimes the only person I will speak to. After Megan was diagnosed, I would talk to Laura about how I was feeling and cry to her. She has been there for us since the beginning.”
Services Funded by Morrisons
Morrisons is funding five Nurse Educators to teach doctors and nurses in community hospitals across the UK how to care for young cancer patients. CLIC Sargent knows that enabling confident and safe cancer care to happen closer to home means so much to young people. It means less disruption to family life, less costly travel to appointments and easier reintegration to employment or education.
It means children like Aaron, 3, can get his chemotherapy treatment at home. Aaron has acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which means he will be on treatment until February 2021. That treatment involves weekly and sometimes daily round trips of 20 miles from the family home in Dudley to Birmingham Children’s Hospital. As mum, Rajdeep doesn’t drive, it means a two hour trip on public transport or a costly £30 taxi ride. Not only do those costs start to add up, but the time away from Rajdeep’s 10-year-old daughter puts a huge strain on family life.
But thanks to Chelsea Hammond, our Nurse Educator for the midlands, Aaron can now have his chemo at home. Chelsea spent three days at home with Rajdeep, Aaron and a community nurse where she demonstrated the most effective an safe way to treat Aaron. Rajdeep said:
"Chelsea spent a long time with us making sure we all understood exactly how the treatment works so both the nurse and I felt comfortable. It is so good that we don't have to travel to Birmingham all the time now because the nurse can come to us. Aaron is comfortable and happy in his home and I am happy because he is happy."
Thanks to Morrisons, we have welcomed 108 parents or young people to our Home from Homes. They are parents who are living at their child’s bedside in cramped hospitals wards, or young people who desperately want to reconnect with friends over reliable Wi-Fi – which isn’t often available in hospitals.
Eric Coates, Manager of Paul’s House in London, said:
"This service has been a godsend for our families. They can't believe something so precious is available to them to use for free. They are happy to be able to cook something tailored to their child because they find it quite difficult to find the right stuff for their tastes - either because of cultural needs or because their child has particular cravings. They always say it is amazing that they can use the house, and that is something we could not have done without Morrisons."
Money worries, trouble concentrating at school, fears over return to work. These are the hidden costs of a cancer diagnosis and the impact on young lives is very real. But Morrisons is helping us be there to help out with some practical things that can make life with cancer that bit more bearable. We have been able to give out a staggering 3980 grants thanks to Morrisons, that means families can spend less time worrying about money. Of those, 200 went to parents to help pay for their child’s funeral. A further 153 families got those grants via our brand new, Morrisons-funded online grants database.
It isn’t just money that helps. We have launched the first phase of our brand new website with thanks to Morrisons. The site has more useful information than you can shake a stick at, and will be a first point of call for young people wanting information when and where they need it. And 1359 members of our online support groups can now share advice in a ‘virtual parents room’ off the wards, thanks to funding for our digital services from Morrisons. To read two mum’s experiences of why these online groups are so vital, watch the video below.
Find out more
To find out more about the partnership or how you can get involved, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org