Update from the Board of Trustees – 21/07/2020

It’s hard to believe that it is six weeks since our last update and nineteen weeks since the start of the Covid19 lockdown. The country is now taking larger steps towards a return to some sort of normality though that must be tempered by the knowledge that the virus has not gone away. On behalf of the Trustees I hope that you and your families are well and in a position to enjoy some of these new freedoms.

A degree of normality is returning to CancerHelp as many members of staff have now returned to work, either on a full time or part time basis. Services continue to be delivered by telephone or video link and most of the charity’s face to face Talking Therapies can be accessed by those who choose to do so. Not surprisingly, some clients with more complex needs are preferring to wait until they can be seen in person. Sadly, following Government guidance, the charity still does not feel it is able to offer Complimentary Services. In addition, group activities remain on hold due to the degree of risk associated with groups from varied households meeting indoors and the vulnerability of many who would attend such activities. None the less, Vine House is being readied to receive clients in a phased manner, commencing in August. The reception area has been reconfigured and redecorated as have a number of other spaces. Many of the rooms have been repurposed to provide a separation between the rooms used by clients and those used by staff. The large volume of donated goods that had built up at Vine House has been distributed to the shops, where open, and sold in table top sales. The charity is grateful to those members of staff and volunteers who have overseen this work.

Whilst our aim is to reopen the day care centres, starting with Vine House, and offer a full range of services it is paramount that the charity does so in a manner that protects both those visiting CancerHelp and those who work there.

There is no doubt that, at the outset of the Covid19 lockdown, the charity faced justified concerns regarding its short term future as the majority of its income stopped overnight. However, the charity has benefitted from local and central government support such as grants for the shops; a large proportion of its staff costs have been covered by the furlough scheme and many charitable organisations have providing emergency funding through grants. Local businesses and individuals have donated to the charity’s Covid19 Just Giving campaign and a number of separate grants have been secured. Successful bids have been made to the National Lottery and Children in Need totalling over £100,000 though that is to deliver specified projects. The CancerHelp retail team has worked extremely hard to ensure the safe re-opening of our High Street Garstang shop and already the shop is generating significant income. Based on that success the team has now moved on to re-open the Berry Lane Longridge shop. CancerHelp derives over 25% of its income from its shops and without them the charity would not survive.

The growing concern within CancerHelp is the financial outlook for the coming year. Much of the financial support the charity has received over recent months such as government grants, the furlough scheme and Covid19 related grants will not be repeated. This support has been vital to the well-being of the charity. Looking forward, fund raising will still be significantly restricted due to the continuing impact of the Covid19 virus and it is unlikely all the charity’s shops will be fully operational.

The charity has survived this initial difficult period but a more significant challenge may lay ahead. The charity’s continued survival will rely not just on the support of its staff and volunteers but also on all those who raise money for the charity. To everyone who has supported the charity thus far thank you so much for all you have done. I hope that you will continue to support CancerHelp over the coming months.

Best Wishes

Jonathan Gorick

Chair of Trustees