“The group helps me enjoy myself, while my parents can be at ease.” Adil has been attending the Young Adults sessions at St Christopher’s Hospice in south east London since early 2019. The 25-year-old decided to try the sessions after his friend from school Ahmet, who he has known for around 12 years, encouraged him to go along.
“The biggest thing for me, living with a disability, is that it’s not easy to get out and meet people” Adil explains. “It needs lots of organisation and other people have to be tied-in to my schedule, which is difficult.”
Making friends and socialising
Feelings of isolation can be particularly tough on young people, so in 2014 the hospice established the Young Adults Group, offering young people who are transitioning between children’s and adult services a safe place to socialise and be themselves.
Many of the group, who are aged between 18 and 30 and have life-limiting or complex health conditions, said that they didn’t have the opportunity to meet people of their own age in day-to-day life, which could leave them feeling lonely.
Prior to the pandemic St Christopher’s offered regular drop-in sessions at the hospice that young people could attend with their siblings, friends and parents, as well as home visits made by members of St Christopher’s team.
"Going to the hospice’s Young Adults Group takes away the headache, because they can manage things like personal care and feeding, so parents and carers can go home with their minds at ease. Then I can enjoy five or six hours of chit-chat with my friends!"
"The volunteers here tend to be quite young, so we can all relate easily” he continues. “The staff are great too and enjoy a laugh and a joke with you.
"Before I came, I was a bit sceptical that the group would be like others I’ve been to, where you are told to join in and have to do certain activities– too much like school! But here, there are lots of activities, like arts, music and workshops, but they are all optional, and you can choose just to socialise if you want. It gives you some freedom, and you are treated like an adult."
Making fun experiences possible
The team also organise trips such as a visit to Nando’s restaurant, and even going to music festival WOMAD, which required them to carefully plan logistics so members of the group could safely attend.
"It might be an ordinary thing for most 25 year olds, but I’d never been able to go to a festival or clubbing so to go to WOMAD with the Young Adults Group last year was amazing," Adil explains.
"We stayed up late and could do what we wanted, within reason! Parents and carers knew that we were being really well looked after by St Christopher’s, so we could just relax and make the most of a fantastic experience."
Since the lockdown began volunteers have been supporting the Young Adults Group via apps like House Party, playing quizzes and hosting music sessions, or through phone calls and FaceTime for those who find social media too tiring or challenging.
As well as checking that everyone has had sufficient food and medical supplies, avoiding isolation was key. Seeing friendly, familiar faces and having a chat has been priceless for the young adults and their carers during the pandemic.
About Hospice Care Week
Hospice Care Week is a chance to join with hospices nationwide to celebrate the hard work, achievements and commitment of our hospice sector. At Hospice UK, we believe that everyone, no matter who they are, where they are or why they are ill, should receive the best possible care at the end of their life.
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