The Team Jak Foundation, a charity offering practical and emotional support to young people in Scotland diagnosed with cancer, is launching a new crowdfunding campaign today (Thursday, September 21) to help raise £180,000.
September 21 marks what would have been Jak’s 18th birthday.
Jak, the inspiration for the charity, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of blood cancer in 2014, but before he lost his fight with the disease, he shared a vision with his family – to open Jak’s Den – a safe haven for young cancer patients and their family and friends, where they can receive emotional support and therapy.
His mum, Allison Barr, opened the first Jak’s Den in Livingston in 2015, but with limited funding available it wasn’t able to meet all the necessary requirements. Today, on his birthday, the charity has revealed plans for a new Jak’s Den, which could open as early as spring 2018 in Ochil House in Livingston.
Allison Barr, Jak’s mum, and founder of the charity commented: “We are absolutely over the moon as a family and charity to be announcing our exciting next steps on what would’ve been Jak’s 18th Birthday. It has taken a huge amount of work to get to this point, and the search has been on for bigger premises since March this year when we started to outgrow our current Den.
“When we opened Jak’s Den [mark 1] we didn’t expect it to take off so quickly. The sad fact is that 11 children in the UK are diagnosed with cancer each day, and it has been a privilege to support some of those children and families here in Scotland. We are now at the point where we need a ground floor, further disabled resources and a dedicated counselling space to meet this demand.
“At the moment we are working with approximately 64 families directly through Jak’s Den and serving many others through Edinburgh and Glasgow Children’s hospitals by providing snacks, goodies, diagnosis and sibling sacks, vouchers and music therapy.
“We have already raised almost half of the required £300,000 we need to fund this ambitious project but need to ensure we have enough revenue to keep it running and also create a beautiful garden space which will be greatly appreciated by all.
“Our new Den will have almost every single aspect that Jak asked for, including provision of a neutropenic café once a month for families where the food will be cooked to stringent health and safety regulations by a local Chef, which makes me as his mum, and mum to our Jak’s Den family very, very proud.”
As well as flexible indoor spaces for music and play therapies, media zones and a soft play, the new Jak’s Den will offer an impressive outdoor space. This features a spa therapy pod, a music pod and a counselling pod, a zen garden, and an angel garden – a special place where people who are bereaved can go to remember their loved ones. The outdoor area also includes two of Jak’s favourite ideas – a sensory play park, and a remote control car track!
The Team Jak Foundation has plans to open two further Dens in Fife and Aberdeen within the next two years or as soon as funds and premises are available.
A special crowdfunding page has been launched today-http://mydonate.bt.com/events/jaksden180000
For further information visit www.teamjak.co.uk or call 01506 412302.