The Rockin’ and Rollin’ Young Adults Group was set up by the two hospices earlier this year because they recognised a gap in the services available to people aged 18 to 30.
On the third Wednesday of every month, young adults with life-limiting illnesses are invited to come together at Saint Francis Hospice and enjoy a take-away meal of their choice along with a variety of activities such as arts and crafts, complementary therapies, and games – there is even an Xbox and Scalextrics.
Parents and carers can choose to stay or take a few hours out for themselves, safe in the knowledge their loved ones are well cared for.
During the sessions staff from both charities are on hand to ensure everyone receives the support they need.
Stephen Burbidge, who has multiple endocrine neoplasia and attended the latest meeting, said: “I come here and paint and it is so relaxing as I get stressed very easily.
“Before I started receiving care from The J’s Hospice I hadn’t talked to anyone outside my family and extended family for 10 years.
“Saint Francis Hospice and The J’s Hospice are my entire social life and the staff are absolutely great.”
Shane Londors, 24, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, said the group has changed his perspective on hospice care: “I thought a hospice was just a place where people come to die but that isn’t the case.
“It is a place to come and meet other people and have a bit of fun with everyone.”
The service, which is funded by Saint Francis Hospice and a grant from the Jack Petchey Foundation, is still in its early days but it is hoped that the people who come along will eventually take the lead and decide what activities are on offer.
Tracy Cunningham, manager of the day therapy unit at Saint Francis Hospice, said: “There was an identified need to improve access to hospice care and services for young adults as they can often be unaware of services available to them and when transitioning to adult services they can feel lonely and isolated.
“The group is not medical and is very much about social interaction.”
Mark Cannon, healthcare support worker at The J’s Hospice, which provides specialist palliative care services in the Essex community to people aged 16 to 40, said: “This is a wonderful example of what can be achieved through working as a team.
“Coming to an adult hospice can have a big impact on patients as they can see that it is not a gloomy place.
“This group is inclusive and people are able to relax, have fun and really enjoy themselves and not feel that they are labelled.”