A new website that offers support and information to teenagers who have a parent with cancer has been launched by the University of Sheffield’s Academic Palliative Medicine Unit.

The site, called Riprap is aimed at 12 to 16 year olds. Its unusual name means “loose stones placed in a stream onto which firm foundations can be built” and the site aims to be a building block for its young users at a time when things seem uncertain.

Head of the unit, Professor Sam Ahmedzai, said: “The site offers teenagers support and advice during what can be a very lonely and stressful time. People of this age group often rely on peer group support, but may find that nobody they know has experienced having a parent with cancer.”

The site was developed following research into current services for teenagers who have a parent with cancer identified a need for an online channel that could act as a friend or adviser.

"Some services offer help and information for teenagers who have lost a parent through cancer but Riprap offers support at any stage when families are living with cancer. The site offers a safe environment for teenagers to share their experiences, explore their feelings, get professional advice and help others," said Professor Ahmedzai.

Riprap users are invited to start their exploration of the site by clicking on buttons expressing their feelings at the time. Sad, angry, guilty, curious, anxious or positive are some of the emotions in the range. Further into the site, there are facilities to seek advice, post messages, read other people’s stories or browse the latest news about treatments for cancer.

The Riprap service was funded by the New Opportunities Fund under its “Living with Cancer” programme and developed in collaboration with the Arnold Interactive marketing and communications agency.