BUILDING work is under way as a South Tyneside cancer charity creates a new £18,000 children’s room.
Cancer Connections is having a new room added to its headquarters in Harton Lane, South Shields.
The new additional space will be used to help youngsters cope with the loss of a parent or help those whose parents are battling cancer.
Deborah Roberts, the charity’s co-founder, said: “It’s incredible to see how far we’ve come, when we look back and see how much we’ve grown we can’t believe it.
“In the early days we never factored in children.
“Now, sadly, it’s a reality that they need the help and support of our service too.”
The charity is helping 48 youngsters aged between five and 18 – this is an increase on last year’s 28.
Counsellors work with youngsters to create memory boxes and books, and to also prepare them for the changes cancer will have on their parents’ bodies and physical appearances.
Previously a counselling room at the bungalow had to be booked out, but the new extension means the children will always have a place of their own.
The South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group contributed £23,000 towards the charity’s £55,000 counselling bills last year, which also included help for adults, but Deborah is keen to stress how important fundraising is.
She said: “Anyone can see there is a shortfall there, our annual running cost last year were £155,000, this is why it’s so important that people continue to fundraise for us, without them we couldn’t survive.”
In 2013, the charity had 6,240 people through its doors – 681 of these were new visitors.
More than 1,240 complementary treatments – such as massages – were carried out and members made 113 home visits.
The children’s room came about after pensioner Dennis Smith from South Shields, bequeathed £5,695 to the charity, after his death last year.
Deborah said: “Dennis very kindly left a lot of money to various charities aimed at helping children and we were fortunate enough to be donated a slice.
“The cash came through in March and the building work finally started three weeks ago, we’re hoping to have everything up and running and the room all decorated within the next few weeks.”