We’re fortunate enough to live in a country where most of our healthcare is free. But for many people who are seriously ill there’s a hidden cost – travelling to and from the places they need to go to access that healthcare.
A recent study shows that families which include someone battling with cancer have to spend an average of £600 in additional expenses every month – and a big part of that goes on things like public transport costs, petrol, parking, or overnight stays away from home. For many families the travel associated with endless check-ups, consultations, and surgeries is just too much on a low income – especially if the treatment someone needs takes place far away from where they live. For example, in the East of England, on average, a child with cancer needs to travel over 100 miles just to get to treatment.
So we offer children and adults with cancer, and other serious health conditions, the chance to fly for free to where they need to go.
Most often we’re helping them travel to medical appointments and treatment sessions – but we also offer non-medical journeys that support their wider health, like taking them to visit family they don’t get to see very often or going on a much-needed recreational trip and creating valuable memories.
Our UK work is based in Cambridgeshire, and most of the families we support are from this area or the surrounding region.
Air travel offers a much quicker, simpler alternative for people whose treatment takes place far away from home. It means that children don’t miss too much school because of long journeys or having to stay near treatment centres, and it also saves their parents – or the adult getting the treatment – having to take as much time off work.
Yet people who are seriously ill often have vulnerable immune systems, so travelling on a public plane is dangerous – not to mention tiring and expensive. So we use a private plane – a leased Cessna Stationair, flown by our qualified and experienced volunteer pilots – which keeps people safe, gives them privacy, and offers more flexibility. It’s much easier for them to fly at a time that suits them, and they don’t need to deal with the stress of travelling through busy airports, queuing for check-in, and going though security procedures. Plus we can fly from smaller airports, closer to where families live.