Wessex Cancer Trust, a self-funded charity which provides free emotional and practical support to anyone living with cancer on the Isle of Wight, in Hampshire and Dorset, has today (Tuesday) launched a crisis appeal to raise £600,000 by 31st January 2020, or it could be forced to close.
The charity, which has been supporting local families for almost 40 years, has seen a 30% increase in demand for its services this year. It has also been hit by a 65% reduction in people leaving a gift in their will and the decline in the high street which has seen its shop sales fall by 15%. A large, previously notified gift has been delayed and together these factors have tipped the charity into a crisis situation.
Every year, Wessex Cancer Trust supports around 11,000 people through its 4 cancer support centres, which provide a drop-in service, professional counselling, complementary therapies, activities, support groups and courses. It also provides transport on its Daisy Buses, outreach services and a popular Sing for Life choir.
The Isle of Wight’s newly refurbished centre in Newport, which provides support for more than 1,000 Islanders each year, recently re-opened its doors following a successful £100,000 fundraising appeal. Meanwhile, the charity’s Daisy Buses complete more than 20,000 passengers journeys each year, providing a vital link for IW patients going to their mainland hospital appointments.
If Wessex Cancer Trust is to close then 53 staff will be at risk of losing their jobs, with 250 regular volunteers displaced.
Barry Rinaldi, Wessex Cancer Trust’s Chairman, said:
“Since 1981, Wessex Cancer Trust has been there for local people at a particularly tough time in their lives. Being told you have cancer is devastating. Living with it can be incredibly lonely and affects all aspects of your life. We work tirelessly to give people a safe place to get support regardless of age, gender or type of cancer, away from a hospital environment.
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“We do not receive any Government funding and rely on voluntary donations and fundraising to run our services.
“One in two of us will get cancer and an increasing number of us are living longer after a cancer diagnosis meaning more and more people will need us in the future. Throughout 2019, we have
been working hard to ensure we can continue to meet the growing and diverse needs of people living with cancer in the future. We have recently launched a new strategy which outlines how we will evolve our services to care for every single person in a way that best meets their individual needs. In the long term, this will enable us to help more people and improve our financial sustainability. But we’ve been struggling to stabilise our financial situation. We have worked tirelessly to explore all income sources and make cost savings, but now have no other option than to ask for urgent help.
“This is not a Christmas appeal or a planned campaign, it is a last resort. We have never needed to run a crisis appeal before but now urgently need to raise £600,000 by 31 January 2020. If we fail, we will not be there for the 165,000 people who will be facing a cancer diagnosis by 2030 and their loved ones.
“This would be a heartbreaking end to almost four decades of crucial support and it is particularly upsetting given our plans for the future of local cancer care. For almost 40 years we have supported local families through their toughest times. Now we are facing ours and urge you to help us if you can.
“We know the Isle of Wight community has already worked tirelessly to sustain and improve our services over the past 18 months. Both the Daisy Bus and Isle of Wight support centre appeals
were an incredible success and we hope Islanders will stand by us in our time of need to ensure these services can continue to help local people affected by cancer for many years to come.”
– Text ‘SAVEWESSEX‘ to 70085 to donate £10. This costs £10 plus a standard rate message
– Donate online by visiting www.justgiving.com/campaign/savewessexcancertrust
– Spread the word on social media using the hashtag #SaveWessexCancerTrust
– Organise a fundraising event or activity
Questions and Answers:
• Why didn’t you do something before now?
We have been working hard behind the scenes to make cost savings and explore all income generation opportunities available to us. In order to protect our clients and staff as much as possible, we waited until we had no options available to us other than an emergency appeal.
• What happens if you don’t raise all of the money you need?
The Trustees will meet on the 9th January 2020 to assess the future financial security of trust based on early outcomes of the appeals. After this time an update will be issued. We are confident that with the support of the community behind us we can avoid a future without the vital local support we provide.
• How many people will this affect?
A future without Wessex Cancer Trust will mean no emotional support for the 165,000 people in the Wessex Region who will be facing a cancer diagnosis by 2030 and their loved ones. We employ 53 staff and have over 250 regular volunteers.
• How is the charity run?
We have an experienced Board of Trustees who are responsible for the governance and the strategic direction of the organisation. We have a professional fundraising and service delivery team who are responsible for the day to day operations of the organisation and ensuring we provide the highest standard of support to local people affected by cancer.
• Have you mismanaged your/donors money?
No there has been no mismanagement of funds. We have notified the Fundraising regulator and are working with them to ensure that the appeal is carried out in line with their guidelines.
• Why don’t you have any reserves?
Whilst we are operating at a surplus this year we have a 65% reduction in the amount of notified legacies and significant delays in the receipt of those gifts.
• What about your shops?
We are grateful to the staff and volunteers who work every day in our retails stores to raise funds to support local people. Like every shop on the high street, we have been hit hard by falling sales which has resulted in the retail arm making a loss. We have made the difficult but ethical decision to close unprofitable shops when we are able.
• How much do you spend on marketing?
We spend approximately 0.01% of our annual income on direct marketing costs. We also have a small team of two marketing professionals who support both the charity and retail arm.
• How much is your CEO paid?
We respect the rights to individuals privacy and our salaries are reviews against market rates for similar roles in the charity sector.
• I have recently donated, where has my money gone?
Each day it costs the trust £3,221 to operate. Your donation has been used to support local people with cancer.
• Will funds be refunded if the appeal is unsuccessful?
Although we are not able to refund donations we will use all funds raised to run the services as long as we are able.
For more information about the appeal visit www.wessexcancer.org.uk/savewessexcancertrust.