Arsene Wenger, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have visited a groundbreaking new Teenage Cancer Trust facility that has been supported with funding by The Arsenal Foundation.
On Friday, ahead of the Club’s dedicated matchday in aid of The Arsenal Foundation against Everton - which sees the manager and players donating a day’s wages - the trio visited the Teenage Cancer Trust Hub and met young people with cancer to understand the effect of the Club's partnership on some of the 800 young cancer patients who come to the specialist unit each year.
The legacy from the Club’s Charity of the Season partnership in 2008/9, which raised £560,000 to help fund the unit, is situated inside University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre.
The Arsenal manager, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain were welcomed to the unit by Siobhan Dunn, chief executive of Teenage Cancer Trust and Simon Knight, director of planning and performance, at University College London Hospital's NHS Foundation Trust. They then received a tour of the modern facility by Teenage Cancer Trust ambulatory care lead nurse, Bethan Ingram, who introduced the group to a number of current and former patients, including Arsenal fans Ben Wilson and Muznibin Ali.
"The opening of this unit wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the incredible support of partners such as Arsenal and we are truly grateful"
England internationals Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain were immediately drawn to the Hub’s bright and vibrant social area, which includes a gym, DJ booth and computer gaming space, as well as a pool table and table football game, where they tested their skills against the young patients.
The Teenage Cancer Trust Hub is just one of the many projects that has been supported through The Arsenal Foundation’s work. More than £1 million has been committed to charity partners and projects, reaching more than 100,000 young people. The projects range from large-scale global education initiatives to smaller-scale projects closer to home that are having a positive impact on the local community.
Following the visit to the Teenage Cancer Trust Hub, Wenger said: "We are proud to have played a part in the lives of young people fighting cancer with this life-affirming unit. We know at Arsenal that we are in a very privileged position to make a difference and so it is fantastic to come out and see how The Arsenal Foundation's work is transforming lives."
Speaking at the unit, Oxlade-Chamberlain said: “It's a really great facility and you can see that a place like this puts a really positive light on what must be a tough situation. When you see money being raised and the impact it has, it inspires you to keep helping."
Speaking about the impact of Arsenal’s contribution, Siobhan Dunn, Teenage Cancer Trust chief executive, added: “The opening of this unit wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the incredible support of partners such as Arsenal and we are truly grateful. This partnership has also been about much more than just raising money for us and today’s visit from Arsene and the players has given a huge boost to our young patients.”
Taking 18 months to construct, the Teenage Cancer Trust Hub is one of the largest the charity has built within an NHS hospital and it is the first dedicated to outpatient treatment. This groundbreaking facility provides day and ambulatory care treatment and outpatient consultation for young people aged 13 to 24 from across London and the surrounding areas.
As well as modern facilities, the young patients that come to the unit each year for treatment and check-ups have more control and responsibility for their chemotherapy treatment. They have special chemotherapy backpacks which provide a patient’s treatment on the move, give greater independence and freedom without having to spend days in hospital.
Teenage Cancer Trust also funds two staff - an ambulatory care lead nurse, who is responsible for developing the transition of care given traditionally as an inpatient into this new setting, and a youth support coordinator. The youth support coordinator helps young people share their experiences and fears with each other and encourages them to socialise by arranging activities and outings.
Arsenal’s dedicated matchday for The Arsenal Foundation takes place against Everton on Sunday, December 8. To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/thearsenalfoundation or text AFCF12 and your donation (e.g. £3) to 70070. To find out more about the Foundation’s work, visit www.arsenal.com/thearsenalfoundation
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