Filling the gap in service provision for children affected by cancer

In 2020, The Hummingbird Centre will start a collaboration with Equilore with the aim to provide supporting services for children who have been affected by cancer. An innovative new project to support children whose lives have been affected by cancer is up and running.

The team, led by Hummingbird volunteer Emma Iley, have worked with outside agencies and schools across Bicester to ensure the service meets all government regulations as well as the needs of the young people.

It will be available to all children and parents can access it through the Special Educational Needs & Disabilities Co-ordinators (SENDCo) at schools.

At weekly sessions in the Launton based centre, young people will meet others going through a similar experience and will take part in a range of activities designed to help them work through their emotions and build confidence and self-esteem.

These will include arts and crafts, sessions at DoJo Sports Centre with sports coach Laura Scarlett, PSHE sessions, counselling and Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy at Equilore.

Ms Iley, who is also a teacher, said: “Being affected by cancer is, unfortunately, a situation many of us have to deal with and sadly children are not routinely offered support by the National Health Service.

“It’s really important that children get to spend time with others going through similar experiences, so that they won’t feel isolated or alone. This can help them to normalise and understand the myriad of emotions which they may be feeling.

“The team at the Hummingbird felt a dedicated service was desperately needed and have worked with schools and external agencies to make it happen. Together we have created an all-encompassing service aimed at helping young people cope with the situations they are encountering.”

Pam Cotter, a SENDCo at Bure Park Primary School, welcomed the service.

She said: “Prior to the Hummingbird’s innovative provision for young people, there was a gap in specialist provision for those whose lives had been affected either directly, or indirectly, by Cancer. There was limited support for the young people in our community and the Hummingbird centre now addresses this through their collaboration with local schools. They offer young people a safe haven in which to escape from emotional pressures, to speak about their worries or concerns, and to celebrate a loved one’s life. The Hummingbird’s aspirational model of working has changed all of that now through this new dedicated children’s service – I think it’s inspirational!”

One of the services children will be able to take part in is specialist equine therapy, a combination of psychotherapy, counselling, coaching and working together with horses to help process thoughts and emotions.

Dr Loes Koorenhof, owner of Equilore Equine Therapy and Learning, said: “Our aim is to facilitate a connection between young people and the horses which helps them build confidence and self-esteem.

“People who have participated in sessions with the horses report feeling more calm and grounded which helps create a distance between them and the problem they have been facing.”