We’re thrilled that Shine Connect, the annual conference we deliver on behalf of Shine Cancer Support, won gold for Best Use of Budget at Friday’s EVCOM Industry Awards 2018, which recognise excellence among the live, screen and digital communities. According to the judges, “this entry absolutely smashed the ROI” and affirms the value of this life-enriching event for young adults with cancer.
Ever since a serendipitous meeting with Shine’s co-founder, Ceinwen Giles, in 2015, it has been TTA’s enormous privilege to work closely with Shine as our charity partner, through fundraising, communications and events support.
Having cancer at a young age can be an isolating experience. Shine Cancer Support is working to change that, as the UK’s only non-profit dedicated to creating a supportive and empowered community of people in their twenties, thirties and forties living with a cancer diagnosis, so that no-one need go through it alone.
Ceinwen recalls, “We wanted to run a conference to provide the information and support that we know is lacking for our target group, and enable people to make new connections and friendships. But as a small charity with a tiny income and only two employees, we feared we wouldn’t have the money, connections or participants to make it a success. TTA gave us the confidence that we could do it.”
We collaborated with Shine to devise and deliver the inaugural Shine Connect in 2016 – a national conference open to any young adult with cancer, their family or partner, and healthcare professionals. The unique format gave participants the chance to meet to talk about life, cancer and everything in between, learn from experts in the cancer field, and access complementary experiences from make-up tutorials to massages. We delivered another highly successful Shine Connect in 2017, which expanded its reach to carers (“plus ones”) and healthcare professionals, and we introduced a “marketplace” exhibition for relevant organisations.
This year's Shine Connect was bigger, better and more beneficial than ever, with a packed programme of topics from building emotional resilience, to sex and dating after cancer, and supporting children through a parent's cancer diagnosis. A videographer was onsite to record key sessions and capture the essence of the day, and the panel discussion and other sessions were live-streamed on Facebook to those who couldn’t travel or attend in person for health or other reasons. Far from being depressing, the discussions were lively, funny, raw and honest. Many remarked on how well the day balanced informative sessions on serious topics with fun.
There were also plentiful opportunities for rest, massage sessions, and cuddles with the cute dogs from Pets as Therapy. Diverse support organisations exhibited in the spacious orangery “marketplace”, showcasing cancer-related products and services from life insurance to lubricants.
Describing our partnership, Ceinwen attests: “TTA brings a magical blend of agile thinking and experience to the table, anticipating things we’d never have thought of. They asked – and helped us answer – insightful, pertinent questions: this is the space we’ve got, now how do we fill it? How many people will comfortably fit within it? What kind of activities can we hold? How long do we need to move people from one room to another between sessions? Have you got public liability insurance for the therapy dogs? And how do we make this feel like a live, life-affirming experience, rather than the sort of conference someone might attend for work?”
“Having TTA on our side makes us look bigger than we are, and gave us the confidence to approach speakers,” says Ceinwen. “They advanced the marketplace concept, which has grown from five providers in the first year to nineteen this year. We’ve gone from asking people in our network if they’d be interested in exhibiting, to having providers proactively contact us, eager to take part."
“On the day, with every detail taken care of, I was free to focus on our young participants,” says Ceinwen. “It takes a village to make these events happen, so we’d like to send massive thanks to TTA, the amazing events management company who helped us pull off Shine Connect for the third year in a row. I’m sure they’ll help us find ways to top it in 2019!”