We are Abby’s Heroes and we aim to help and support children and their families including bereaved families who come under the care of the Piam Brown Ward, the Regional Paediatric Oncology Centre for the Wessex region, together with the Teenage and Young Adult Unit (TYA) at University Hospital Southampton. Families from across the South Coast of England, with a patient age range of 0-25yrs will attend either of these wards when diagnosed with Cancer.
The charity began in November 2016 following the loss of the Founder’s daughter Abby Randall, aged 11 from a cancer called Ewing Sarcoma. As a family, as well as the indescribable pain of having a child diagnosed with cancer, they struggled with the massive financial repercussions of being on the wards and unable to work for long periods of time. Often one or both parents need to give up work or take unpaid leave to care for their sick child. On average families spend an additional £600 per month when their child is diagnosed with cancer - CANC£R COSTS: CLIC Sargent 2016. Abby’s Heroes supports families when their child is on treatment by awarding financial hardship grants to help relieve the poverty parents find themselves facing as a result of their child’s diagnosis. These grants can be for a host of reasons such as rent or mortgage payments, household bills and other everyday living costs while the child is in hospital, additional travel costs to hospital or sadly help towards funeral costs. Families of children receiving treatment for cancer at Piam Brown Ward and the Teenage and Young Adult Unit can apply to Abby’s Heroes for a grant. Their need is assessed and validated by the Social Worker, who works for the CLIC Sargent Charity on the ward and this is not means tested, unlike many other cancer charities. We are able to tailor our awards to the individual family’s need and are not restricted to a set amount for each award. We pride ourselves on the swift turnaround for approval, with many grants awarded within hours of receiving the application. In 2019, 83% of the grants awarded were for financial or practical help such as the help with the mortgage/rent or household bills or for travel expenses as often families are travelling a great distance to hospital. The remainder were for memory making for families to spend precious time together.
In addition, we also fund specific projects to help make long hospital stays as comfortable as possible. These may be small such as a Snack Box or larger ones such as Welfare Packs for parents of newly diagnosed children to help ease the financial pressure of living at the hospital for weeks. We run a Day’s Out Programme to enable children to escape the “routine” of treatment and enjoy some precious family time while creating some special memories.