With the importance of online cancer support more crucial than ever, we spoke to Ceinwen Giles, the director of Shine Cancer Support about the fantastic services they offer both during the current climate and when it’s business as usual.
Tell us about your organisation?
Shine Cancer Support is a small, national charity that supports anyone diagnosed with any type of cancer in their 20s, 30s or 40s. We provide online and in person support and information and (in usual times!) also do training for healthcare and cancer professionals.
What services do you offer people living with cancer?
Our online services are obviously particularly important at the moment. We’ve moved a lot of our in person work online so it’s now possible to join a Shine Network for your area of the country and join a virtual meet up. We’re also starting new programmes like a virtual book club and some online workshops. We’ve got a workshop for newly diagnosed young adults on 20th April which you can sign up to here.
In normal times, we also run a huge range of in person activities from workshops on topics like work and coping with anxiety, to Shine Connect, the UK’s only young adult cancer conference. We also run retreats twice a year – once in Bournemouth in January, and another in the North East in October. Our next retreat, which we call The Great Escape, is scheduled for 1st to 4th October in Darlington and we’re really hoping we can run it!
Do you have a target demographic who use your services?
We support anyone with any type of cancer, at any stage, as long as they’re in their 20s, 30s or 40s. We have a huge range of people who use our services and are a part of our community.
How are you funded?
We are a small charity so most of our income comes from community fundraising. We’re obviously facing a pretty tough and uncertain time at the moment. Traditionally, most of our income is raised between March and October as we have places in events such as the London Nightrider, the Royal Parks Half Marathon, the Vitality 10k and the Great North Run. We also usually have a lot of people who take on individual challenges for us. With coronavirus, we’re really worried that our income will suffer and that we won’t be able to provide the level of support that we know is needed.
What would you say to those who are considering getting in touch with you but are nervous or apprehensive?
It’s tough – and we get it. But you’ve got nothing to lose by trying. We understand that it can be a strange feeling to reach out for help or information when you’re not used to it. But we’re nice and (fairly normal) and we won’t force you to stay if you don’t want to!
Do you have testimonials from people that have used your services?
Here is a snippet of some of the great feedback we’ve had…
“I just wanted to say a big thank you to Shine for organising the workshop yesterday. I found the day really helpful and just being with other people who ‘get it’ felt like a giant hug. Our stories and experiences might all be different but one word ‘cancer’ has changed our lives forever. Constantly being surrounded by people even family who don’t know what to say, and many of whom have stopped asking is hard. Yet you get a room of strangers together and you feel supported and less alone. I am looking forward to future events and becoming part of the shine family.”
“Your event was brilliant. The public perception of cancer is that it is overwhelmingly negative, and your events have the knack of showing that it is still possible to have fun and learn. The mutual support amongst patients was the most valuable thing when I was ill. Medical stuff is vital, obviously, and the contribution of family and friends, but I think that there is nothing like talking to someone who has actually been there, and understands that the most important question might be about something so seemingly insignificant that nobody else thinks to talk about.”
“Shine is absolutely amazing & I honestly don’t know how I would off got through my journey without you all. From the continuous support, Shine camps (Crazy cow invasions), the Bristol spa trip (List is too long for the shenanigans that happened there!) & many other meet ups. I’ve made some amazing friends & will always treasure the laughs, the memories & of course the excellent advice. I will always support Shine & all the hard work that goes into running this charity.”
Who works for you?
We currently have five staff. Me and Emma (who are the founders and directors) and Jon, Neil and Rosie. With the current crisis, Jon and Rosie are on furlough which is weird for all of – we miss them!
What are the values of your organisation?
Above all, we value community. We know this isn’t a community that you’d choose to join but we hope that we can help you once you’re in it. We also value integrity and honesty. We don’t try to pretend we’re something that we aren’t, and we don’t want to paint a picture of life with cancer where everyone is successfully running a marathon while they’re in treatment. We’re committed to reflecting what life with cancer is really like – the good, the bad and the ugly!
And finally, can you describe your organisation in 3 words?
Friendly, fun, and helpful.