Lancaster cancer charity's community helpline receives hundreds of calls from people seeking support

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A special helpline set up by CancerCare to provide support to people isolated by the coronavirus outbreak has received more than 100 calls for help in just one week.

The charity, which provides free professional counselling and therapy for people affected by cancer and bereavement, set up the dedicated helpline ahead of the closure of its centres in Lancaster, Kendal and Barrow last week.

The helpline is offering people who are isolating due to the outbreak access to professional counselling over the telephone and is also organising essential food and medicine deliveries to people who are eligible for CancerCare services but are unable to leave their homes.

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The service, which is being run from the homes of trained CancerCare staff, launched on Monday March 23 and received four calls - but by Monday March 30 that number had risen to more than 100.

CancerCares Development and Engagement Officer Sarah Drake operating the helpline from her homeCancerCares Development and Engagement Officer Sarah Drake operating the helpline from her home
CancerCares Development and Engagement Officer Sarah Drake operating the helpline from her home | other

Chief executive Maria Chambers said: “The vast majority of our work involves seeing people face-to-face so, while this is currently not an option, we wanted to give the people who need us access to services that will ensure they can still get the help they need in one way or another.

“We expect the numbers of calls to grow as social isolation continues to bite. We took a call last week from a lady who lives with her mum who has cancer. She herself has underlying health issues which mean she is unable to go out and get supplies for them both. She had been struggling to get a food delivery slot which left her at her wit’s end and not knowing where to turn.

“She had heard about us from her cancer nurse so she rang and we said we would arrange a delivery for her. She was so relieved she broke down in tears on the phone saying she had felt so alone.

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“It was an emotional call and one which underlines why we set it up to provide support and practical help to people left isolated by the crisis.”

A special fundraising campaign has been launched to help pay for the new services and people can donate at or visit

The helpline is open from 9am-5pm from Monday to Friday and is operated by CancerCare staff who will assess the call and decide on the level of support needed.

The charity is also offering other services including online counselling, distance reiki, online nutrition and is planning to launch an online mindfulness course in April.

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The helpline number is 03330 150 628 (charged at local rate) and people can also email [email protected] or text 07860 018 278.


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