A small Preston charity which has been running for 30 years has appealed to the public not to forget it during the Coronavirus crisis.
CancerHelp (Preston) has set up its own JustGiving page in a bid to ensure its survival.
In common with many charities and businesses it has seen it income plunge, but knows there is a constant and ongoing need for the help it provides.
The city based charity was set up to assist people diagnosed with cancer and support them through their treatment.
It offers counselling support and, before the Coronavirus lockdown, complementary health sessions, including massage.
So far £2,675 has been raised in donations with an additional £578 coming through Gift Aid.
Charity trustee and treasurer Rachel Mallett said: “We have set up a JustGiving page entitled CancerHelp Preston Survives 2020. We have got four shops which are closed at the moment - on New Hall Lane and Plungington Road in Preston, Berry Lane in Longridge and on Garstang’s High Street, so we have no revenue.”
Meanwhile the rolling programme of fundraising events the charity relies on has had to be cancelled.
The charity pays reduced Business Rates and Rachel says she has already applied for the £10,000 grant for business premises the Government has offered during the Coronavirus crisis.But that is still a long way from the £400,000 it costs to run the charity each year, even taking into account the eight per cent of funding provided by the NHS.
Some staff have been furloughed and business consultant Rachel is providing extra admin help as a volunteer in addition to her financial know how. The general manager and head of children’s services have stayed in post.
CancerHelp assists around 500-600 people a year. It has two bases Vine House on Cromwell Road in Preston and Croston House on Croston Road in Garstang.
Business consultant Rachel said: “We have had to reduce our running costs. We have had to rejig our budget and we are still supporting people. Because of my financial background I’m looking at the finances - it’s paramount to our survival.””
She and CancerHelp General Manager Jeanette Smalley stressed the charity is still providing support with counsellors working from home and offering support via telephone or through online meetings, according to client preference.
Jeanette said: “We’re still providing services. We are still taking referrals. We’ve lost about 90 per cent of our income. Our main message is we want to be here once we come out on the other side. We have been a charity providing excellent services over 30 years and we want to keep on doing that work.”
Rachel acknowledges there is a need to raise awareness of the varied CancerHelp services which provides key support during and after medical diagnosis and treatment and also helps carers and the bereaved. It is distinct from hospital care and specialist end of life care. She said: “We do a lot of self support programmes. What we give is less physically tangible ...We’re diagnosis through to survivorship. We get forgotten I think.”
Looking ahead she is concerned that once lockdown ends their shops may not reopen straight away as many volunteers are older and the charity will have a duty of care to them too: “We’ve got to look after our volunteers as well.”
But she is optimistic about the longer term future of a charity which has proved its staying power for three decades.
She said: “We will survive there’s no doubt about that. Here we are - don’t forget us. On the other side (of Coronavirus) people will need all sorts of support.”
• CancerHelp’s JustGiving page advises: “Raising funds any way we can for CancerHelp because we have people who need us ... We, like the world, will get back to normal as soon as possible and it is with the support of people like you that we will be able to do so.”
• To see the page, which has a £38,000 target, search online for JustGiving and CancerHelp Preston.