Lena Copley has been our Support Worker based in Royal London Hospital since October 2021. She shares with us what it’s like to be a CHECT Support Worker for National Eye Health Week and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Got up earlier than usual this morning. I wanted to go for a 20-minute run ahead of the start of working day. It was a glorious morning with a spectacular, orange glowing sky and all was quiet. Already quite hot. Like most of the UK, London has seen temperatures over 30c for the past few days – hot, hot, hot!

Log on around 8.45 and start checking text messages, responding to those whilst making notes for the daily to-do list. I then go through the inbox and can see we’ve had a few queries about our little CHECT penguin, Pip. I respond to those and then go to Facebook where we have a few membership requests from international families. After signposting and responding, I make a couple of planned support calls. We have a new family, so I want to send them an email with information about CHECT, what we can do for them and signpost them to a few other charities. Then it’s time to make a call to Royal London to speak with one of the CNS’s (Cancer Nurse Specialists). I want to update them on the progress with a couple of applications and discuss the upcoming EUA (examination under anaesthetic). By the time I hang up, I have got the information I needed to complete and submit a blue badge application for one of the new dads.

By now it’s already lunchtime and after a quick bite to eat, I check for messages/emails/Facebook and respond to further support queries. I’ve had a message from a worried mum, so call her back straight away. I then continue to do some applications – one for a financial grant to help with travelling/hospital costs and another for whitegoods to help a needy family. I also make a quick call to check in on a housing letter I provided for a family with a partner charity I work closely with at Royal London.

Next, I prepare for the afternoon’s Support Team Meeting. We are currently arranging a TYA event at the Harry Potter Studio in Watford and also planning for an October Family Day and a further online support event. It has been a bit of a challenge to find a suitable location for the family day, but I think we have decided to go for a Halloween themed pumpkin picking/farm event, which will be just great.

I just realised that at the time of the October Family Day, I will have been with CHECT for two full years. Time has flown and I still enjoy my job as much as I did when I started. I consider myself lucky to be able to work with so many wonderful families and colleagues.

The CHECT support worker role is a busy one but so very interesting and varied. I think I learn something new every day and I am in awe of the specialised knowledge the medical team has. There are so many highlights – Meeting the families; Seeing how the CNS’s work with the complicated planning to ensure that each and every child is seen at the right time; Working with Gemma the play specialist and seeing how the children are crazy about her is just lovely. We all play a part in making sure families feel supported and safe and it’s a privilege to be part of such a great team.

Just before I finish for the day, I follow up on our events meeting. It ends on a high note with good news from a partner charity who have agreed to help one of the families by offering a short break away.