In December the charity launched its crisis appeal which stated that it needed to raise £600,000 by 31 January. If the Trust fails to raise the money it faces a “harsh reality”: centres providing services may have to close.
Each year around 23,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in the Wessex area and the Trust has been helping them for nearly 40 years.
Since December the charity has raised £252,000 but will face the risk of cuts to services and support centres if vital fundraising targets are not met.
Bournemouth Cancer Support Centre manager, Emma Ormrod said: “We just about have enough money to keep going every year, we never have lots of money in the bank.
We’re probably going to have enough money to keep the services for the rest of the year but we’re going to have to have a think about how the charity is run and maybe have some cuts along the way.
More demand for services – but less donations to pay for them
The charity gets no government funding and relies upon voluntary donations and fundraising.
However, in recent years there has been an increase in users of the service and a decrease in donations.
Charity statistics reveal that in 2019 there was a 30% rise in the number of people using their support centers.
But there has been a 65% decrease in the number of people leaving gifts in their wills to the charity and a 15% drop in income from their charity shops.
Mrs Ormrod said: “Last year was the worst year we’d had with legacies. Less and less people are leaving things in their wills, it’s not something people really do anymore.
“We’re going to have to look at how we run the charity, we have shops and centres so maybe we just need less.”
There are currently six charity shops and four support centres in the Wessex area, in Bournemouth, Chandlers Ford, Hythe and on the Isle of Wight.
However, last month the centre in Cosham was closed because of a funding shortage.
Each centre offers a variety of services to individuals, families and friends affected by cancer.
A patron of the Bournemouth support centre, Douglas Mitchell, 62, said: “If we didn’t have somewhere like this I don’t know quite what i’d do. I would miss it hugely.”
Having suffered with a traumatic cancer, Mr Mitchell now receives free professional counselling through the Wessex Cancer Trust.
There is literally no one else I could speak to in the same way. I can’t do it with my family and it’s nice to have somebody who’s not in your family unit. It really would be a huge thing to miss. I really don’t know what I’d do, I’d find it very hard.
In 2017 Wessex Cancer Trust provided more than 2,000 hours of counselling and over 3,000 hours of complimentary therapies.
The Bournemouth centre has only two salary staff and is made up of over 40 volunteers. All the money donated or fundraised is spent on the vital services the centre provides.
Mrs Ormrod said: “One counselling session costs £40, we see five people everyday Tuesday to Thursday for free. We also offer therapy sessions which are the same cost which we also offer for free.
“It’s just somewhere for people to come that’s not home or the hospital, it’s not clinical and they can come here and talk to people that really understand it and they don’t have to pretend they’re okay.”
Priding themselves on being an ‘oasis of calm’ as one patron described them, the charity focuses on the well being of its clients.
“We say the hospital will try to fix the cancer and what we’ll do is try and put them back together and help them for the rest of their lives.”
The Trust supports around 11,000 people a year, but Mrs Ormrod believes that number will only increase.
“When I started three years ago we used to have three to four new clients a month and now we’re up to 40 new clients a month.
One of the main things we desperately need is a constant supply of volunteer befrienders.”
The befrienders at the Wessex Cancer Trust are trained volunteers who talk to and welcome people as they come through the door. They are a key to the successful service provided by the charity as they help individuals at all stages of their journey.
Mark McBlain, retired PE teacher and volunteer befriender at Wessex Cancer Trust, believes the trust is invaluable to the community.
— Nicole Baddeley (@nicole_baddeley) January 28, 2020
The trustees of Wessex Cancer Trust say they are confident the charity does have a future. A further statement will be made after a meeting in February.
If you’re affected by cancer and need support, please contact Wessex Cancer Trust.
Call Bournemouth Cancer Support Centre on: 01202 315824
Or walk-in, Tuesday to Thursday at:
Wessex Cancer Trust Support Centre, 17 Hinton Rd, Bournemouth.
The Trust provides a variety of services:
- Drop-in Service: Each centre has a team of trained volunteers known as befrienders who are on hand to help individuals and families with support and a listening ear.
- Complimentary Therapies: The centres provide complimentary therapies to help individuals feel relaxed and help them focus on their wellbeing. Therapies include; reflexology, aromatherapy, yoga and meditation, reiki and massage.
- Counselling: Free professional counselling is provided to help reduce stress and improve the quality of life for people.
- Children and Young Adults Support: Alongside adult support, The Trust offers free professional counselling for children and young people affected by cancer.