Cancer Focus NI launches emergency appeal to ‘save our services’. This cancer charity provides much needed assistance to people in the Downpatrick area, but it is slowly being squeezed for vital funds.
A spokesperson for leading local cancer charity Cancer Focus Northern Ireland says the organisation has launched an emergency appeal for funds to save its vital services for cancer patients now and in the future.
“The charity is desperately worried that it will not survive the coronavirus crisis and is appealing to everyone to make a donation today to help keep its doors open.”
Each year, Cancer Focus NI supports 6,000 cancer patients, their families and carers across Northern Ireland. The local charity is 90% dependent on fundraising but has had to cancel all its fundraising events and close its charity shops. As a result, it is facing an 80% loss of income over the next six months.
Roisin Foster, chief executive, Cancer Focus NI, said: “Our hearts go out to people who are trying to cope with the anxiety of coronavirus on top of dealing with a cancer diagnosis and the impact of treatment.
“COVID-19 is making life so much more difficult for them – treatments have been delayed, and clinics cancelled. Not to mention the anxiety, stress and loneliness that patients and their families might feel right now.
“With cancer screening suspended and GP referrals for suspected cancer down 76%, we know there will be a wave of patients facing late diagnosis and more complex treatment.
“We desperately want to be able to support people facing cancer both now and in the future but, unfortunately, we are facing a crisis unlike any other we have ever known in our 50 year history.”
Roisin added: “Our income has plummeted to a critically low level and we are worried that we will not be able to keep afloat. We fear we might not be here to continue to support thousands of people at one of the toughest times of their lives. For each day of lockdown, another 36 local people get cancer, and cancer figures are rising year on year.
“We are still providing greatly reduced counselling and family support services to as many vulnerable people as possible. But we urgently need your help and we’re appealing to everyone to make a donation, big or small, to save our services.
“Your donations are vital to us and every penny raised stays in Northern Ireland. Your support at this incredibly difficult time is extremely valuable and greatly appreciated. We can’t do it without you.”
Emma Telford from Downpatrick was just 14 and her sister Evie was eight, when their much loved mum Lorna was diagnosed with cancer and sadly later passed away.
Emma and Evie both used the Cancer Focus NI family support service. Emma said: “Sometimes, when you’re in that situation where a loved one has cancer, you feel isolated because everyone around you is going through normal life while your whole life is falling apart.
“We needed help to understand what was going on and to get support at what is a really difficult time. The family support service helps you understand that you are not on your own and you meet other people who are in exactly the same position as you, which was really important for me.
“My mum really valued the support, it is incredible and it is a service that every child in that situation should have access to. It made a massive difference to my life and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without them. It’s invaluable and I will be forever grateful for the support I received.
“Cancer Focus NI really do need your help so that this amazing service can continue.”
Former South Down MP Margaret Ritchie uses the Cancer Focus NI bra-fitting service in Downpatrick. “When I got my diagnosis of breast cancer and knew I had to have a mastectomy, naturally that was a major shock to me.
“I find the service invaluable. The staff are very friendly and supportive and the service is very private and confidential. When you have breast surgery you want to be able to wear the clothes you used to wear but, most importantly, you want your body shape to return and to look good in your clothes.
“The bra-fitting staff have training and expertise and, above all, they can provide comfort and solace. This is a fantastic service to have on your doorstep.”
You can support the Cancer Focus NI by making a donate today on: cancerfocusni.org/appeal
or text FOCUS to 70660 to donate £5 or text FOCUS £10 to 70660 to donate £10.