Each year, around 150 children in Yorkshire are diagnosed with cancer. When a child receives a diagnosis, lives are turned upside down instantly, not just for the child but for their parents, grandparents, siblings, extended family and friends. Getting well again can be a long and challenging journey, emotionally, physically, and financially.

In 1976, a group of parents and medical staff recognised a need for families with children facing childhood cancer to receive extra support. Back then, the prognosis for these children was very poor and it was a lonely world for them and their families. Together, the parents and medical staff started a charity with one clear vision: to bring light and hope to all families affected by childhood cancer in Yorkshire. Today, Candlelighters brings light to families by providing emotional, practical and financial support, and hope, by investing in vital research to improve the outcomes and lives of children with cancer.

Our family support centre, The Square, is just a minute’s walk away from Leeds Children’s Hospital. Here families can access a range of high-quality support services such as wellbeing sessions, talking therapies, and peer support groups. Alternatively, families might simply like to pop in for a drink and a chat to get away from the clinical environment of the hospital. During the coronavirus pandemic, The Square is being used for essential activities such as bereavement meetings, whilst our other services have been adapted for a virtual capacity where possible. We also work to deliver support to families closer to their homes and within their local communities across Yorkshire, as well as funding an Outreach Play Specialist to provide additional support to families within their home.

We have a great presence at the oncology wards and clinic at Leeds Children’s Hospital, where our Family Support Workers provide crucial front-line support for families in the hospital. The team here provide practical support to families staying on the wards or visiting the clinic, helping to signpost our services, entertaining children so that parents can get some respite and anything and everything in between. We also fund the roles of Social Workers, Play Leaders, a Dinner Lady and more on the ward, providing extra support to families and the NHS hospital staff. As many families will spend a significant amount of time in hospital, we work to make the environment feel a little less daunting by funding decorations, activities and home comforts for the children.

As one of only two children’s hospitals in Yorkshire, some families may travel quite some distance to receive treatment at Leeds Children’s Hospital. The Candlelighters Cottage is our ‘home away from home’ accommodation for families with a child staying as an inpatient on the Leeds Children’s Hospital oncology wards. The Cottage is just a short walk away from the children’s ward, allowing families to stay together at a time when they need it most. For children who are not being treated as inpatients, visits to and from the hospital may be frequent and costly. Often a parent may need to stop working to care for their child, which can cause financial concerns. We offer grants for families to help cover these costs and ease these worries.

Another way we help children and their families to take time away from the day to day impact of cancer on their lives is by providing them with holidays and trips out.  We’re determined to make sure children still get to enjoy their childhood and our holidays provide them with a chance to build some wonderful family memories together.

As well as supporting the needs of families through their cancer journey, we invest significantly in vital research, education and training to improve the outcomes and lives of children and their families affected by childhood cancer across Yorkshire. In the last 20 years alone, we have invested over £9m into cancer research in a range of different areas to benefit young cancer patients. Our aims are to: improve early diagnosis, improve treatments, improve quality of life, increase survival, and to develop experts of the future so that we have the best professionals looking after children and their families.

Candlelighters are experts at providing support to families in Yorkshire affected by childhood cancer. We are there from diagnosis and for as long as is needed, wherever that help is needed, whether on the ward, at home or in the community. We understand the complexities and impacts of a childhood cancer diagnosis, and we work hard to help ordinary families through extraordinary circumstances.

Our Vision
To bring light and hope to every family affected by childhood cancer across Yorkshire

Mission
We bring light to families affected by childhood cancer by providing emotional, practical and financial support. We bring hope by investing in vital research to improve the outcomes and lives of children with cancer.