Cancer charity given green light to build new ‘haven’

The family of tragic toddler Kai Laidlaw have helped raise funds. Picture; Ian Georgeson
The family of tragic toddler Kai Laidlaw have helped raise funds. Picture; Ian Georgeson
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PLANS to build a new haven for young cancer patients and their families have been given the go-ahead.

Charity CLIC Sargent hopes to build a new “Home from Home” in Edinburgh to provide free accommodation for families while youngsters undergo treatment.

The new centre will be based on Old Dalkeith Road, and will throw open its doors in time for the launch of the £150 million replacement Sick Kids hospital at Little France.

Cecilia Milburn, UK Home from Home manager for CLIC Sargent, said the charity was “delighted” to have received planning permission.

But she insisted vital funds were still needed to make the scheme a reality.

She said: “This moves us one important step closer to being there for the hundreds of families that will need support when their child is struck by cancer.

“However, we are still in need of vital funds toward the new home, in order to provide that haven for patients and families, to alleviate the financial costs and emotional strain of cancer so that families can stay together during the toughest times.”

The new facility – designed by LDN Architects – will replace CLIC Villa, the charity’s current Home from Home across the road from the existing Sick Kids hospital in Sciennes.

Arguing for the necessity of a new venue, bosses said youngsters hit by a devastating cancer diagnosis often need to start treatment straight away – in facilities far from home.

This can leave them facing round trips of an average of 60 miles, which can have a “huge financial and emotional impact”.

CLIC Sargent’s new centre, which will boast nine en-suite bedrooms, provides somewhere for families to stay just a short walk from the hospital.

This gives much needed respite – helping families spend more time together and lessening the financial impact.

CLIC Sargent launched its £3 million “Scotland Home from Home” appeal when it was announced that the Sick Kids in Edinburgh and Glasgow would be moving to new sites.

Among those to raise crucial funds were the family of tragic Leith toddler Kai Laidlaw, who died from leukaemia earlier this year at the age of just three. Little Kai was first diagnosed with cancer in September 2013, when he was just eight months old.

In order to maintain the support provided to families struck by cancer, CLIC Sargent needs to build new homes close to the replacement hospitals. Last year, Marion’s House was opened in Glasgow.

But the charity still hopes to raise close to £1m towards its new home in Edinburgh, due to open alongside the replacement Sick Kids in 2018.

This winter, the Evening News has teamed up with Edinburgh Maggie’s Centre and city fundraiser Lisa Stephenson for the Buy a Brick appeal, which aims to raise more than £750,000 for an extension to the centre at the Western General Hospital.

alistair.grant@jpress.co.uk