Kate Lee: Why CLIC Sargent is changing our voice to shout louder for young lives

01 Nov 2016 Voices

Kate Lee, chief executive of CLIC Sargent, explains why the charity needed a bolder brand to get its message across.

When I joined the charity sector more than twenty years ago I used to think that cancer charities for young patients had the easiest pitch to charitable givers. How can you argue with them? I used to feel guilty pitching against them.

Now I am chief executive of the UK’s largest children’s cancer charity, CLIC Sargent, and I know that times have changed. Fundraising is far more competitive, and it’s crucial that a charity’s brand underlines its uniqueness and speaks in a voice which appeals to and reflects its audience and aims.

CLIC Sargent is a very special and unique charity. We deliver practical help and emotional support to children and young people from 0-24 with cancer, working with and through their families. 

However our brand, some seven years since its last review, hasn’t kept up with the direction of the charity’s services, as well as the attitudes of our supporters and service users. 

It has been light and fluffy for some time. It is time for a change. We have relaunched our brand, to better connect with our donors, both current and future, but also to make it clearer who we are and what we stand for. 

Choosing a voice

Standing for both children and patients up to the age of 24 can make it hard to choose a voice. Young children and young adults often don’t speak the same language.

But that is the wonderful thing about young people, their fantastic individual personalities, hopes and aspirations. Our job is to support these young lives. That is why we stand for ‘Young Lives Vs Cancer’ – we will work tirelessly to help these young lives flourish in their own ways.

The time of cancer being considered an ‘unspoken difficulty’ is behind us. Most charities are in a stronger, more adversarial space. When we spoke to those we support we heard loud and clear that our young people want us to fight for them. They want us to be loud and brave, for those days when they can’t be.

Speaking out on service delivery

Over the years our service teams across the UK have strengthened their role as power family advocates, with increased technical knowledge in everything from education rights to funeral planning. 

CLIC Sargent is a fantastic deliverer of services, and the largest provider of specialist children and young peoples’ cancer support outside the NHS in the UK. This is a charity powered by deeply passionate and committed staff and volunteers, and we have a lot of things to shout about. 

Cuts in social care support, benefits, education and the NHS are causing unnecessary and avoidable damage to the lives of children, teenagers and young adults with cancer. We know this because we work with 95 per cent of them under the age of 16 and 60 per cent of those between 16 and 24 and we see it, every day.

We have something to say about that – and it isn’t light and fluffy.

We, and the families that we stand for, are more than a bit cross about how things are going. Now is the time for us to be bolder and braver.

Shouting louder

Many of our supporters have had some experience of childhood cancer, even if it is just a work colleague or neighbour. They also know that at grass roots level we are a strong, confident and unflappable force to be reckoned with and told us that this is important to them.

They support us because we challenge the system with integrity. We do what we say and make them feel like a part of the team fighting for the solution.
It is time for CLIC Sargent to deliver an external image which is consistent and authentic to what we do, brave, confident care, delivered with integrity and a strong sense of collaboration to achieve the goal everyone working in this field wants, to limit the damage cancer causes to young lives.

This has always been our aim - we are just shouting it louder.

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