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Charity opens new 'home from home' in Belfast

John James Fisher, Kate Lee from CLIC Sargent and Danielle McGriskin cut the ribbon on Amy’s House yesterday. Pic by Brian Morrison

THE ribbon was cut yesterday on a new 'home from home' in Belfast, which will provide support to children and young people with cancer.

Marking the end of a £3.7 million fundraising campaign, CLIC Sargent officially opened Amy's House, close to Belfast City Hospital.

Amy's House offers vital free accommodation and support for families while a young person undergoes treatment.

It was named after Amy Reid (20) from Newtownards, whose family have campaigned and fund-raised for the charity since she died from metastatic melanoma in 2013.

Facilities include five large en-suite bedrooms, shared lounge, kitchen space, quiet room, a young people's room and roof terrace.

It saves families from the impact of regular travel to and from hospital, as well as the financial costs, while enabling them to spend more time together.

John James Fisher was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in 2011 just before he was due to sit his GCSE exams.

Throughout his intensive treatment, his mother Brenda had a 65-mile round trip to visit him or come home to look after her other three children.

"It was really difficult. I felt very cut off from the family in that sense because the travelling didn’t make things easy for my family and it was very tiring," he said.

"You can see the difference a place like Amy's House will make. Parents and families will be able to spend more time with their children and it will really help with the costs as well as the stress."

Danielle McGriskin (19) from Lisburn, was 14 when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and hydrocephalus.

The teenager and her family stayed in the charity's Bristol home from home.

"The house was a godsend to us and it meant the family could stay together. I can’t imagine how much worse my experience would’ve been without it," she said.

Cecilia Milburn from CLIC Sargent said: "Families in Northern Ireland make an average round trip of 95 miles, up to five times a week, to access the cancer treatment their child needs.

"Amy's House can make a huge difference to these families."

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