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Emma is our Youth and Transition worker at Helen & Douglas House. She told us about her role at the hospice and how she supports the older children we care for, from the ages of 13-19, until they move on to adult care with other healthcare providers. As a children’s hospice, we care for children from birth through to the age of 19, when Emma’s role supports their social needs and their transition to adult clinical and supportive care.  

You can read our Youth & Transition Leaflet here.

Youth Work: Emma works with our teenagers of Helen & Douglas House that have communicative capacity and who want to engage. She supports our young people by arranging social activities such as a regular youth groups to boost their confidence, self-esteem and independence, and she also undertakes 121 support. Emma’s role is all about empowerment and enabling people to achieve their goals, as big or little as they may be, with the right amount of support for the individual. The activities enable development of social and life skills, raises awareness around social inclusion, and ensures they are aware of what they can do beyond their teenage years by helping them look to a positive future. Emma meets with our teenagers either at the hospice, at home, or at their school, to talk about all sorts of things going on in their lives. This helps build long term, trusted relationships and means that our young people can be enabled to feel less isolated and more prepared for their future. Emma told us they often play board games together which means our young people can relax and feel comfortable to talk more, including sharing their worries.​

Transition work: As well as her youth work, Emma also supports the older teenagers of the hospice, aged 14-19 and their parents/carers in preparation of the changes from the children’s services to adult services. Advising them how opinions and attitudes would change and letting them know what support there is out there for anything from housing, education, work to social and even health. As they move from the safety of the hospice, into the big wide world, her role has helped the young people feel less alone and isolated and prepared for their future. Emma will also refer them to social workers and other services, where appropriate, to those who could offer support with life beyond the hospice.

The variety of Emma’s role means that every day is different. One day she could be answering emails and phone calls, then the next day she might be visiting a teenager at home or school, or she could be talking to her clinical peers to find future respite or help for one of our teenagers. One thing she has developed as part of her role was starting the #networksaturday youth group which gives the teenagers with capacity a chance to meet with others in a similar situation to them on a regular basis.

Network Saturdays

The #networksaturday group, which Emma has been running since January 2019, meet at the hospice on a Saturday every 5-6 weeks. Our teenagers are invited to come along where they can take part in activities and games, have a group family lunch and have the chance to talk to other teenagers of the hospice, and staff and volunteers. They get to meet special guests, such as Leo the PAT cat (featured below) other external groups and undertake lots of different and new activities. Emma can also use these sessions to recognise what support is needed on an individual basis.

Emma told us that, ‘Meeting online during Covid was never the same as seeing people face to face, but it was a pretty good alternative – it always put a smile on my face and I finished my working week in a good mood. We chatted, told jokes, did quizzes and had fun. It’s so good being back face to face at the youth group with a brand-new cohort (apart from one old face). All the young people are keen to meet new people, hang out, share life experiences and learn new things and they have the opportunity to make lasting friendships along the way. It’s a bonus to be in a space which is so accessible and appropriate for them and to have activities which they can partake in with the support they need. Seeing friendships grow and develop has been a highlight for me since we started back in April this year (2022) and seeing the difference it makes in our young people’s confidence is just so wonderful.

Jasper, who has been attending #Network Saturdays for a while said, ‘I have previously attended Network Saturday which has been a great way to spend the day and a nice change from being at home. I like the social activities they do and making friends’.

The future

Emma finished her chat with us by telling us about an experience of seeing the transformation of a young person who transitioned into their new life after Helen & Douglas House and went to University; they had the right support and became more independent and this was fantastic to see.

Help us continue to support children of the hospice by making a donation of £10, or whatever you can afford, towards one of our youth club sessions. These sessions usually cost around £130 a day and you’ll be ensuring that, once it is safe to do so, our teenagers can get together again and meet others in a similar situation to them and avoid isolation.