Clan worker Alan is there to support children and families
Families in the isles who are affected by cancer are being encouraged to get in touch with a new dedicated children and family support worker.
Cancer charity Clan appointed Alan Hall in September last year to give support to children, young people and their families affected by cancer.
Travelling the length and breadth of Shetland, Mr Hall can meet in homes at school, in hospital or elsewhere in the community.
Locals have raised huge amounts of money for the charity over the years and Mr Hall hoped people felt entitled to support, regardless of where they live in Shetland.
Families can email or phone Mr Hall for advice or support and he can also accept self-referrals.
Schools, the Macmillan nursing team and children and adolescent mental health services can also make referrals.
The appointment comes after Clan carried out a public consultation in 2014 as previously there had been an outreach service with staff visiting quarterly from Aberdeen.
Mr Hall offers support to children with a diagnosis and also helps children with the loss of a loved one from cancer.
In schools he often works with youngsters on a one-to-one basis and gives talks to school pupils too.
“More often than not that is centered around a particular activity – arts and crafts, hobbies or interests they have,” he said.
“If it’s a parent with a diagnosis there is often a lot of anxiety around that for the child.”
Offering a safe place and an opportunity to talk can help, he said; helping to boost confidence and help cope with anxiety.
Mr Hall said: “Often what you find, particularly where there’s a close family member with a diagnosis, you often find the parents are trying to protect their children by not talking too much about what’s happening and the children are actually protecting their parents by not wanting to ask questions.”
Mr Hall said he also works with families where a parent may have a poorer diagnosis and dealing with delicate issue of care for youngsters in the future
“They may be the principal carer and some of the work I do with families is to look at who is going to continue that after they die and that’s the work that is hard.”
Being able to speak to someone outside of the family network can also help some people to open up.
“It’s important to take the service out. I think if you’re a parent at home and you’re going through treatment and you have younger children you’re not able to travel in to receive that support, so it’s really important that the service is able to take that out to people.”
To contact Mr Hall call 01595 697275 or email firstname.lastname@example.org