Cancer patients get support during lockdown

A charity is continuing to support cancer patients in Cheshire after receiving funding from the Steve Morgan Foundation. 

The Widnes and Runcorn Cancer Support Centre had to stop all their face-to-face sessions because of Covid-19 and put a lot of their fundraising events on hold.

The timing of the pandemic was especially disappointing as the charity turned 25 years old in May and had a series of celebratory events planned.

The organisation applied to the Steve Morgan Foundation for help and was awarded £15,000 from the Covid-19 Emergency Fund which has allowed them to turn their services virtual.

Operations manager Nicola Donoghue said it had been a difficult time but the charity had responded to the challenge head-on.

“We have 500 people registered with us and we have drop-in sessions, counselling, peer support and they’re all done face-to-face,” she said. 

“We had to stop that because of social distancing. A lot of people with cancer or recovering from cancer are especially worried about Covid-19.

“We knew there was a need for us so we turned our services online and also have a chatroom and a virtual meditation session.

“Our staff team are working from home taking inbound calls and making weekly wellbeing calls to anyone currently registered or anyone new to our service.

“We can refer to local vital support services during the pandemic. We have moved our counselling service to telephone counselling and our children and young people can access web-chat and Facebook support group activities online.”

The charity has to raise around £70,000 a year, which covers 50 per cent of their running costs, with the remainder coming from Halton Clinical Commissioning, Halton Borough Council and Public Health.

They’d hoped to raise a large chunk of that money with a series of events in May to celebrate their 25th anniversary culminating with a black tie event at Halton Stadium, which had to be cancelled.

However members and volunteers marked the event by having a party at home and sharing photos.

Karen Millington, who was a centre user in 2016 after being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39 and is now a centre co-ordinator, said: “At the moment we are still offering our services but in different ways.”

Nicola Donoghue described the £15,000 from the Steve Morgan Foundation as a ‘godsend’. She said: “It has enabled us to keep going. There any many individuals who have donated whatever they can to support us in continuing our services which will help us to keep running until we can reopen and hopefully beyond.

“The resilience of our service users, staff, volunteers and community is simply amazing. As the leader of our charity, I am overwhelmed with the support and kindness which is all around us and I am very fortunate to be part of such a dedicated team of staff, volunteers and trustee board members.”

The centre has also set up a ‘25 Things in May’ fundraiser asking people to get creative and do 25 of anything they like such as dances, films, walking and bike rides.

Steve Morgan, founder of Steve Morgan Foundation, said: “Cancer impacts so many people it’s absolutely essential that the Widnes and Runcorn Cancer Support Centre was able to continue its work during the pandemic. We were delighted to help.”

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