Not for Profit

Published: December 3, 2019 | Updated: December 3, 2019

‘Perfect storm’ leads cancer charity to launch £600,000 appeal in desperate fight for survival

Professional counselling is among the many services offered by Wessex Cancer Trust.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

A charity which provides free emotional and practical support to people living with cancer is appealing to Dorset businesses to help in its battle to survive.

Wessex Cancer Trust has today launched a crisis appeal to raise £600,000 by January 31, 2020, or risk having to close.

The charity, which has been supporting local families for almost 40 years, has been hit by a ‘perfect storm’ including:

  • A 30 per cent increase in demand for its services this year.
  • A 65 per cent reduction in people leaving a gift in their will.
  • A decline in the high street which has seen its shop sales fall by 15 per cent.
  • A large, previously notified gift has been delayed.

The charity says that taken together these factors have tipped the charity into a crisis situation.

Barry Rinaldi, Wessex Cancer Trust’s Chairman, said: “This is not a Christmas appeal or a planned campaign, it is a last resort.

“We have never needed to run a crisis appeal before but now urgently need to raise £600,000 by January 31, 2020.

“If we fail, we will not be there for the 165,000 people who will be facing a cancer diagnosis by 2030 and their loved ones.

Barry Rinaldi, Chairman, Wessex Cancer Trust.

“This would be a heartbreaking end to almost four decades of crucial support and it is particularly upsetting given our plans for the future of local cancer care.

“For almost 40 years we have supported local families through their toughest times. Now we are facing ours and urge you to help us if you can.”

Wessex Cancer Trust, which also covers Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, currently supports around 11,000 people every year through its four cancer Support Centres.

These provide a drop-in service, professional counselling, complementary therapies, activities, support groups and courses.

It also runs outreach services, a popular Sing for Life choir and transport on its Daisy Buses to help patients get to their hospital appointments.

Mr Rinaldi said: “Since 1981 Wessex Cancer Trust has been there for local people at a particularly tough time in their lives.

“Being told you have cancer is devastating.

“Living with it can be incredibly lonely and affects all aspects of your life.

“We work tirelessly to give people a safe place to get support regardless of age, gender or type of cancer, away from a hospital environment.

“We do not receive any Government funding and rely on voluntary donations and fundraising to run our services.

“One in two of us will get cancer and an increasing number of us are living longer after a cancer diagnosis meaning more and more people will need us in the future.

“Throughout 2019, we have been working hard to ensure we can continue to meet the growing and diverse needs of people living with cancer in the future.

“We have recently launched a new strategy which outlines how we will evolve our services to care for every single person in a way that best meets their individual needs.

“In the long term, this will enable us to help more people and improve our financial sustainability.

“But we’ve been struggling to stabilise our financial situation.

“We have worked tirelessly to explore all income sources and make cost savings, but now have no other option than to ask for urgent help.”

In 2014 there were just over 98,600 people living with cancer in the Wessex region.

By 2030, it is estimated that there will be almost 165,000.

It costs £100,000 a month to run Wessex Cancer Trust.

To help, the charity has appealed to Dorset businesses and individuals to:

  • Text ‘SAVEWESSEX’ to 70085 to donate £10. This costs £10 plus a standard rate message.
  • Donate online by visiting www.justgiving.com/campaign/savewessexcancertrust
  • Spread the word on social media using the hashtag #SaveWessexCancerTrust.
  • Organise a fundraising event or activity.

For more information about the appeal, please visit www.wessexcancer.org.uk/savewessexcancertrust