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Bristol law students to help families of young cancer patients

6 October 2016

Working in partnership with CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, University of Bristol Law Clinic students will help parents of children living with cancer negotiate some of the legal obstacles that come with the diagnosis.

For several years, alumni and friends have supported the Law Clinic through gifts that have enabled the establishment of a Director post to support the students and for the clinic to extend its service throughout the summer. As a result, the clinic has been able to grow and help even more people who need pro-bono legal advice to get the justice that they deserve. 

Families of a child undergoing active cancer treatment spends an extra £600 a month on average, according to research by CLIC Sargent’s recent Cancer Costs campaign. This financial impact of cancer can be devastating for families, with many parents spiralling into debt. 

In partnership with CLIC Sargent, the University of Bristol Law Clinic have established regular drop in sessions for families of children living with cancer at Sam’s House, one of CLIC Sargent’s Homes from Home accommodation for families and young people, while they have treatment at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children (BRHC).

Rachel Banks, Social Team Work team leader from CLIC Sargent, said: “For parents of children living with cancer, understanding their legal position can help alleviate some of the pressure that comes with their diagnosis. We believe our partnership with the University of Bristol’s Law Clinic will make is easier for families to get this essential service at a very difficult time.”

Through regular drop in sessions, Law Clinic students will provide parents with advice on topics such as rights for benefits for carers, disability living allowance for children and more, whilst they gain the very best clinical legal education and experience by providing a valuable social service that has the power to change lives.

The drop in sessions start on 6 October.

John Peake, Director of the Law Clinic said“We are dedicated to providing pro-bono legal advice for those that most need it. Having your child diagnosed with cancer is an enormously stressful time, even without the added burden of worrying about taking time off work or covering extra costs. We are very glad to be able to provide some support to families and ease the extra worries by pointing them in the direction of the support they are entitled.”

The project will be supported by CLIC Sargent social workers, who provide practical and emotional support to children, young people and their families. Their services include financial support, grants, benefit information and a wide range of information on cancer and its impact. 

Jaydene Davies, CLIC Sargent Outreach Nurse Specialist at BRHC, said: “We have many families that have employment or financial issues along their child’s cancer journey. As nurses, we support them and signpost them to other organisations, however, we are unable to offer them any legal advice. We encourage a home visit from their CLIC Sargent Social Worker if they have any issues.  This service will be extremely beneficial for all the families we care for.”

Rachel Banks added: “We are looking forward to working with the University of Bristol Law Clinic. We believe the partnership will complement our social worker services, helping us expand the support we provide with free legal advice for both Bristol families and all families of children and young people having cancer treatment in Bristol.”

The establishment of the partnership coincides with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which runs throughout September to raise awareness and highlight the impact of cancer on children, young people and their families. 

Further information

The University of Bristol Law Clinic helps students gain the very best clinical legal education through the provision of pro-bono legal advice. It is organised and run by students, who are supported by members of academic staff, and by trainee lawyers and barristers from leading solicitors’ firms and chambers. The Law Clinic is currently accepting referrals from Bristol Citizens Advice Bureau and the Personal Support Unit at Bristol County Court, while also providing direct support to members of the public.

For appointments, please contact Louise Chalice, Executive Assistant to the Law Clinic, either by telephone: 0117 954 5340, by email at: bristol-lawclinic@bristol.ac.uk or in person at University of Bristol Law School, Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road, Bristol, BS8 1RJ.

About cancer in children and young people

Every day, 10 children and young people in the UK hear the shocking news they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.

CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families. It provides clinical, practical and emotional support to help them cope with cancer and get the most out of life.