Shine Connect: a life-affirming national conference for young adults with cancer, delivered on a shoestring budget.

TTA (The Turner Agency) / Shine Cancer Support

 

Living with a cancer diagnosis in your twenties, thirties or forties can be an isolating experience. Shine Cancer Support is uniquely dedicated to changing this by building an empowered community for young cancer sufferers. Our charity partner’s founders challenged TTA to devise and deliver a national conference that would leave participants feeling more hopeful and supported, and less isolated.

But how do you create a live, life-affirming experience that doesn’t feel like the sort of conference someone would attend for work? How do you balance informative expert talks on serious, sensitive topics (like sex after cancer or supporting children through a parent’s diagnosis) with opportunities to forge friendships through peer discussions that are lively, raw, honest and even funny? How can you enhance the power of face-to-face connection with digital innovation? And how do you host a packed programme of plenary sessions, workshops, a marketplace exhibition, supportive therapies and an immersive virtual reality holiday in a historic London venue for 132 participants (young cancer sufferers, their relatives or partner, carers and healthcare professionals) on a shoestring budget of £15,000?

We have been staging and evolving Shine Connect since 2016 and last year was, according to Shine co-founder, Ceinwen Giles, “our best yet”. We donate our time for free, from planning to execution, but for everything else, we work creatively and resourcefully to deliver an enterprise-grade annual event on a start-up budget. Our involvement spans programme development, venue liaison, production management, branding, design and printing, development of a bespoke registration site and multi-functional mobile app, participant management, and onsite presence on the day.

Shine Connect 2019 received 100% positive reviews (with 86% of participants rating it as “excellent”) and its halo effect continues throughout the year with the sense of community and connection kick-started by the event and companion mobile app.

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