LATCH supports the children and their families who are being treated by the Oncology Unit at the Children’s Hospital of Wales, whose catchment area stretches from Chepstow in the South to Aberystwyth in the North. Around 70 new cases are diagnosed every year.
Supporting Families Through a Difficult Time
Having a child diagnosed with cancer or leukaemia comes as a devastating blow.
Faced with a period of months and sometimes years of gruelling treatment and an unknown future, the related ups and downs are often referred to by families as like being on a rollercoaster.
Caring for a child during treatment is hard on all the family. Finances are often a worry as parents will often have to take time off work to support their child. Family relationships can suffer too, as the emotional pressure takes its toll and everyday life is turned upside down.
When a child has been diagnosed with cancer or leukaemia, the chemotherapy treatment can last from six months to three years depending on the type. Follow up treatment and check-ups mean that a child who has been diagnosed with cancer will be under medical supervision for over 5 years.
What Does LATCH Do?
LATCH is most well known for its on-Site Family Accommodation at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.
This unit consists of eight hotel-standard bedrooms (six of which are en-suite) with televisions as well as kitchen facilities, a laundry room, a dining room and lounge so families can make themselves at home. The accommodation is offered to families free of charge and helps keep families together during their child’s stay in hospital. LATCH also issues free passes to use the hospital sports centre to keep families active and enthused.
Staying on site allows families to stay together during a really tough time, especially considering many families travel from as far as Aberystwyth.
What We Provide
LATCH also provides a vital Social Work Service – specifically the funding for a dedicated team of three social workers who specialise in the issues facing the families of children receiving treatment for cancer and leukaemia. The LATCH Social Work Team is there to provide practical, emotional and financial support in a confidential environment.
LATCH also provides a range of financial Support through Grants – this can be for travel, food, even rent in some cases. When a child goes through cancer or leukaemia treatment, families often face higher heating bills for example, and many parents have to give up work to care for a sick child.
Emotional Support for Parents is offered in the form of counselling and alternative therapies. They run various support groups for the parents as well as one to one sessions. They also organise treats and get-togethers for the parents such as pamper days for the mums and golf days for the dads. Being with people in a similar situation often helps and just doing something different can act as a much needed tonic.
LATCH also offers holiday grants or the option to use their three caravans, and provides a number of excursions for children to Lego Land, Build a Bear and other venues to provide a touch of normality or a well needed escape from ongoing treatment.
The list goes on, including:
- Emotional Support for Brothers and Sisters
- Benefits Advice
- Ward-based family Support Workers
And much more!
LATCH needs to raise on average £700,000 a year to cover the costs of supporting families. With no paid fundraisers, we rely heavily on the hard work of volunteers and remain proud to have one of the lowest management expenses for a charity in the whole of the UK. Last year alone, over £300,000 was awarded to families in the form of financial grants last year alone.
Putting it simply, LATCH makes life easier for children and their families so that they can give their all to their treatment without letting anything else get in their way. Time and time again, families stress that LATCH lifted them when they needed it the most and in many cases stopped them from buckling. It’s only thanks to individuals and organisations up and down the country that these services have helped, and continue to help, countless families across Wales when they are most in need.