A support centre offering a lifeline to cancer patients has launched a new fundraising drive as it prepares to reopen post-lockdown and meet growing demand.
The Cancer Support Centre, in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, was unable to run its normal fundraising events during the pandemic, but it survived thanks to grant aid and individual supporters taking part in sponsored events.
Now with demand growing again, it is looking to raise even more funds and is setting up a new dedicated team to help raise £150,000 or more to support people who have been affected by cancer and delays in treatment.
Jackie Price, centre manager, said: “Lockdown had a big impact on our fundraising. Events had to be cancelled and money stopped coming in. We are trying to find new ways to raise money, but it has been very difficult.
“We used to raise £3,000 a week on average for the service, through donations, events and so on, but this has dropped off over lockdown.
“We were incredibly fortunate to have survived lockdown due to grant funding, and are doing ok so far this year with our supporters doing an amazing job in raising funds.
“As we open up again and demand grows, the pressure to raise enough funds to help all that desperately need support is increasing in a very challenging environment. We are focusing on the future and the need to ensure that we will be able to raise around the £150,000 required to get back to our previous capacity and potentially more.
“For this reason, we are looking to set up a team who will develop different fundraising events and make new links with local businesses for support.”
Jackie said the centre, in Lindridge Road, covered the whole of the Midlands area and had even had a client as far away as Devon.
Before the pandemic, it offered face-to-face support through counselling and therapy sessions and provided a space for those with cancer to come and feel safe and supported.
During lockdown many of the talking therapies moved to online or phone services so ensure people could still access the help needed. The centre also launched a YouTube channel for clients which grew to 400 hits per month.
Jackie said: “We work holistically – mind, body and spirit. Everyone’s support needs are very different so the therapies are tailored to the individual. One of the main things we do is give people back control – when they are diagnosed, they might feel as though they’re on a treadmill, being told what to do and where to go. We help them take control of the situation and manage their own needs.
“Traditionally, we had group sessions and clients could drop in to talk to someone, but that came to a stop in lockdown. There were calls to close the service, but we kept going and offered sessions on Zoom and talking therapies over the phone.
“Lots of people were seeing their treatment cancelled or postponed and stress and anxiety levels were high; it was a horrendous situation and we were needed more than ever.”
Jackie said pre-Covid the centre was helping around 500 clients in person, but this had fallen to around 250.
Numbers are now rising as existing and new clients slowly return and the centre is offering appointments, with all Covid safety measures still in place to ensure vulnerable clients are safe.
Jackie, who was diagnosed with breast cancer herself in 2017 and was supported by her colleagues during her treatment, said she knew it was a big step for those with a cancer diagnosis to ask for support.
“It means you have to accept that you have cancer,” she said. “But we are here to help. There are lots of people out there in need of support and someone to talk to. Come to us, we can help you and give support that you might not even know that you need.”
Jackie, who was given the all-clear in 2019, added: “It’s important that people know it’s not something that they have to do on their own. They can call us or email us if they prefer.”
The centre is looking for volunteers to fill roles on the community and business engagement team and the fundraising/marketing team to help with the new funds drive.
Anyone who can help or would like to get in touch with the centre, should email [email protected]