Young cancer patients facing long stays in hospital are getting the chance to get creative thanks to a regional charity and a four-figure grant from the North East’s biggest building society.

The Dragonfly Cancer Trust provides a range of support for children and young people from Tyne & Wear and Northumberland who are undergoing cancer treatment and aims to help ‘make each day matter with those who matter most’.

As part of its services, the Trust provides activity boxes containing a range of craft items that younger patients can use to create their own artworks and keep busy during their hospital stays.

Items in the boxes include mask decorating kits, colouring books, felt tip pens, wooden craft kits, bracelet-making kits and decorative items to attach to photo frames and memory boxes.

And after being awarded a £1,500 grant through Newcastle Building Society’s Northumberland Street branch in the city, the Trust has been able to buy enough equipment to full replenish its supply of boxes.

CEO Jane Dennison says: “Many of the young people that we help are facing long stays in hospital, often in isolation, and given their often very delicate physical conditions, there are only a limited number of things that they can do.

“The activity boxes give them the chance to express their creativity, have fun at their own pace and make keepsakes that they can give to their families and friends.

“The feedback we get for patients, families and staff on the wards is always very positive and it helps to provide at least a degree of normality in what are often vary challenging and stressful situations for all concerned.

“There’s a continuing need to keep replenishing our stocks as activity boxes are distributed and used, and this funding helps to ensure that we have materials available for all the young people that need them.

“Newcastle Building Society has been a long-term contributor to our work and we’re hugely grateful for their continuing support, especially at the current time when many of our usual fundraising activities have been put on hold.”

The funding has been provided by the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which was set up to offer grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network, and put forward for support by its customers.

Pauline Baldwin, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Northumberland Street branch, adds: “The work of the Dragonfly Cancer Trust has made an untold difference to the lives of hundreds of young people and their families across our region over many years.

“Supporting the communities in which we’re based is central to who we are and we’re very happy to be part of this simple but hugely rewarding project.”

The Dragonfly Cancer Trust was founded from an original idea from Josie Grove who herself sadly died of cancer in 2007 at the age of 16, as part of her wish to enable young cancer patients to create precious memories with their family and friends.

It supports children and young people up to the age of 25 who are suffering from cancer, and as well as providing the activity boxes, it also offers cash gifts of up to £500 which cover the cost of trips, visits or activities which help recipients and their families realise a specific dream and make memories.

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has also contributed over £1.8m in grants and partnerships with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Princes Trust. The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Society also made a £100,000 contribution to the £1m appeal set up by the Tyne and Wear Community Foundation for its Coronavirus Recovery and Response Fund.

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.