Work Wales help young cancer sufferers gain skills and confidence

Here at the Child of Wales Awards, we are constantly amazed and inspired by the wonderful stories of compassion that we hear from the people and organisations involved in the awards.

It’s particularly great to hear that one of our sponsors, Work Wales, has been going above and beyond to help young people suffering from cancer regain their confidence, learn new skills, expand their work-related opportunities and help them to take great strides towards their future careers.

Work Wales co-founders and directors, Christina Allen and Sophie Benyamin, first approached Maggie’s in Swansea – a charity that gives free support to anyone with cancer and their families – with the offer of helping people with work-related advice and support. Initially, the plan was to include visits to the centre, holding sessions that covered writing CVs, role-play interviews and general career advice. These planned sessions were due to start in the spring of 2020 and be called FACT – Friendly Advice, Coaching and Togetherness!

However, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, these face-to-face meetings were put on hold, but by then the staff at Maggie’s had already introduced Christina and Sophie to the organisation CLIC Sargent – a cancer charity that supports children, young people and their families facing the disease.

Over recent weeks, using virtual video-conferencing software, Work Wales have managed to once again start helping people gain the skills needed to apply for jobs.

Work Wales co-director and founder, Christina Allen, said:

“I believe cancer is a subject close to many people’s hearts, but after my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and before her recovery, I saw the amazing work Maggie’s does and wondered what I could do to help.

“I heard that they welcomed volunteers to do makeup and hair for the visitors, and I had the idea that we could offer our help with recruitment support, CV writing, role-play interviews and generally helping with queries about employment issues – not to mention building confidence.”

Sophie Beyamin, co-director and founder of Work Wales, added:

“Unfortunately, our FACT sessions have been put on hold, but by being introduced to the representatives of CLIC Sargent already last year, and using video-conferencing software, we’ve been able to continue helping young people with cancer – many of which will be applying for their first job – build the skills and confidence they need to succeed in the jobs marketplace.”

Two of Work Wales newest recruits have been instrumental in helping the young people at CLIC Sargent: Perm Recruitment Consultant, Kim Simpson and Contracts Manager Nia Evans. Kim had previously worked with vulnerable young people in New Zealand and Nia has recovered from her own breast cancer diagnosis. The personal experiences of these two members of staff, combined with their expertise in getting individuals ready for the jobs market, makes them the ideal consultants for the role.

Kim Simpson, Work Wales perms recruitment consultant, spoke about volunteering with Clic Sargent:

“It’s a really rewarding and humbling experience. The skills that we try to give these young people not only give them opportunities and open doors for them, it helps bring out the confidence that they may lack as a result of some of the challenges they’ve had to face in their young lives.”

Nia Evans, Work Wales contracts manager, added:

“Dealing with a cancer diagnosis can make you feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. Being a survivor myself, I know only to well the effect it can have on your confidence levels. I’m so pleased to be able to help people on their journey to recovery, and so proud to work for an employer who enables us to volunteer hours to this worthy cause”

When coronavirus restrictions are finally lifted, the team at Work Wales are determined to continue helping at Maggie’s, as well as helping vulnerable and homeless people at Matts Café in Swansea, where they had – prior to COVID – set up a monthly Job Shop, volunteering hours giving careers advice and employment skills.

The Child of Wales Awards, an event that celebrates the inspirational achievements of children across Wales, has thanked its sponsors for their continued support, which has allowed it to make a substantial donation to charity now, despite its annual event being delayed due to the coronavirus.

The event, originally due to take place in the Celtic Manor on April 3, 2020, will now go ahead on April 9, 2021, after originally being rescheduled for the autumn. The event will also release a video celebrating the achievements of some of the children nominated for awards this autumn.

The Child of Wales will donate £5,000 to each of the charities it is raising money for in recognition of the challenging times they are enduring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. Its charities are: Teenage Cancer Trust, Dreams & Wishes and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

The Child of Wales is backed by Bluestone National Park Resort, Trade Centre Wales and Bidfood. The category sponsors are: 1192 Laser & Beauty Clinic, Acuity Law, Andrew Rees & Sons Butchers, Barclays, Bibendum Wine, Castell Howell Foods, DWJ Group, DWJ Wealth Management, Gower College Swansea, Iceland Foods, Joe’s Ice Cream, MGY, Mitre Linen, Princes Gate, Principality Building Society, RedKite Solicitors, Sytner BMW and Thomas Recruitment Group.

A number of other companies are helping fund the support packages for the winners, funding their stay at the Celtic Manor and Bluestone. These are: Penguin Recruitment, AB Glass, Work Wales, Gallagher, Seren Global Media, Holder Mathias Architects, Blue Tiger Marketing, Bullock, Storm technologies and MyConcern.

The Child of Wales will also unveil a small number of new awards this autumn, designed to recognise the contribution of young people in Wales who have gone the extra mile for their friends, relatives and their local community in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

Blanche Sainsbury, the founder of the event, said: “We would, once again, like to thank all of our sponsors, supporters and stakeholders for their continued support during these unprecedented times. It means a lot to us, the charities we are supporting and the children and young people whose lives and achievements we will celebrate. It gives us all hope and something to look forward to in the midst of uncertainty. But in the context of the pandemic and limitations on social gatherings, we have had to map the best way forward for the Child of Wales Awards.

“We have done this in the context of government guidelines and scientific advice and in the best interests of everyone involved in Child of Wales. But we are also still determined to create some magic and offer joy and happiness to individuals – the purpose of Child of Wales. When the event eventually does go ahead next year, we promise the long wait will be worth it – the evening will be amazing. We intend to finally deliver what we started and what so many people have worked so hard to make a very special event.

“Meanwhile, we are acutely aware of the challenges many charities have faced as a result of lockdown and restrictions on society. The delay of our event has limited our ability to fundraise but in light of the funding challenges many charities are facing, we will be presenting our charities with £5,000 each immediately. We hope this will help them through these difficult times. We again thank our sponsors for their continued support, which has made this possible.

“In addition to this, because we did not want to keep our amazing young people waiting that long before their achievements could be recognised, we also have a special surprise in store.

“We will be contacting all our young award winners over the next few months to tell them they have won and give them some very special surprises. We plan to then release a video of celebration, on the original date of the rescheduled awards on October 30.

“Finally, we will be adding a small number of new awards designed to celebrate the bravery and community spirit of Wales’ young people during the pandemic and through lockdown. If anyone is interested in working with us on these or sponsoring then, please get in touch.”

We just wanted to share the amazing work of event partner Work Wales, which over the Easter Holidays raised more than £500 for three children’s charities to allow them to buy Easter Eggs for vulnerable or underprivileged children.

Work Wales has been running the scheme for several years. Usually, they visit local children’s hospital wards to hand out the eggs – often more than 1,000.

However, given the extra precautions required because of the Coronavirus, they instead raised money and donated it to three charities instead: The Carmarthenshire Youth and Children’s Association, The Kids Cancer Charity and Local Aid for Children and Community Special Needs. They instead bought and distributed the eggs.

Christina Allen, director of Work Wales, said: “We aim to collect enough eggs to donate one to each child involved in these charities. We were all very emotional last year as their little faces were full of delight upon receiving them.

“We were overwhelmed with everyone’s generosity last year and after donating to the chosen charities we also visited the local children’s hospital wards as we received so many eggs from our lovely client and prospect base.

“This year, we are taking extra precautions due to the Coronavirus and so rather than visit all the lovely businesses who are donating the eggs, we instead made a donation and purchased the eggs ourselves and deliver to the chosen charities.”

The initiative has had an incredible response with many recipients very touched and grateful.

One mum of a four-year old with cancer said: “”A big thank you to you and the kind people at Work Wales for our Easter pack. The children were delighted with it all … they started on the Easter activities straight away and thoroughly enjoyed the chocolate. We are in isolation in a flat so keeping the children busy and happy is a challenge. Your package was just what we needed! Thank you.”

Another mum with a nine-year old with leukaemia added: “Thank you for the activity packs, crafts and chocolate you sent our two for Easter…. they have loved doing the art and crafts, the rabbit masks are great and they loved making an Easter card. The chocolate didn’t last long…. it was a lovely treat.”

A mum of a 13-year old with a tumour added: “Please pass on our thanks to the Work Wales team for the flat packed easter eggs you sent our two. The flat pack chocolate made us chuckle…. it was a lovely idea…. and the boys said it was very tasty! Still chuckling as I write this….clever idea…thanks!”