Lorraine Case, youth support co-ordinator, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lorraine Case works in a cancer hospital with 16- to 24-year-olds who are undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy

- What do you do?

I work in a cancer hospital with 16- to 24-year-olds who are undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Part of my role is to devise therapeutic activities on the wards, which can be anything from art and pool competitions to outings to football games or concerts. In addition, I run the Christie Crew, which is a group that tries to improve services for other young people having treatment.

- How did you get into this role?

I have worked with The Children's Society and as a mentor for a youth offending team, and also as an educational mentor. I hadn't previously worked in the health sector. I am a qualified youth worker and that is the role I took on here seven years ago, although it has grown and developed since then. The hospital has gone from supporting 30 to 40 young patients a year to the 130 to 160 it has now.

- What challenges do you face?

You have to be mindful that the young people are going through treatment. They become more reliant on their family, often at a time when they're looking to become more independent. You also have to work with young people who are undergoing palliative care, which is something most youth workers don't come across.

- What are the rewarding aspects of the job?

It's rewarding when you've worked through treatment and they don't need your help any more. It's great when they are out of the cancer loop and they can reintegrate. They stop needing the support group and start going out with their peers.

- How do you make a difference?

At the moment I'm working with the Christie Crew on a campaign for schools to raise awareness of signs of cancer among young people. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in young people and survival rates are worse than for adults and children. The crew has developed a DVD of personal stories, and designed a poster for schools and sports clubs.

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