Updated; Tuesday 11th August 2020
Message from our CEO Kate Alden:
As I sit and write this update there is a bright blue sky and the sun is beating down. During the Covid-19 pandemic I will be honest and say there have been some really dark days and I am not referring to the weather.
The enforced closure of our Support Centres at the end of March was heart breaking. Not being able to do what we do – supporting people living with cancer with complementary therapies, face to face counselling, offer and facilitate our range of support groups and activities – was devastating but I fully understand this had to be done to safeguard our clients, volunteers, staff and their families.
In addition the closure of our shops and cancellation of so many of our fundraising events meant income streams came to a sudden halt and contingency plans had to be implemented.
The majority of the staff were put on furlough and many remain so now. For those who have been working whether this is for the duration of the pandemic or those who have returned to work their commitment, versatility and positive reaction to change has been humbling.
We are now at a point where I can see some light at the end of the tunnel. Our shops are starting to reopen on a phased return. The team of volunteers at the Witham shop were back in place last week. Wickford and Burnham will be opening next week and Sawbridgeworth on 24th August. Due to storage limitations and the need to quarantine we can only accept donations of stock 3 days per week but sales figures are good and we have received positive feedback from customers and staff about the cleanliness and compliance with social distancing measures.
I am also pleased to announce that our some of our Support Centres are also reopening but initially, in line with Government Guidelines, there will be limited hours and restrictions on who we can offer appointments to and what treatments we can provide.
Our Mid Essex Centre in Hatfield Peverel will be opening on 1st September. We will be offering 40 hours of reflexology per week. On 7th September we will be reopening our West Essex Centre in Harlow and on 8th September our South Essex Centre in Southend. They will be offering 15 hours and 4 hours of reflexology per week respectively. On 7th September we will be restarting our services in North Essex at the Cancer Wellbeing Centre at Colchester Hospital. We will be offering 20 reflexology sessions over a two week period. At this time there is no confirmed date for restarting our services within the North Middlesex Hospital in Edmonton.
For the time being we will be continuing with our counselling services by telephone. I do understand that some clients would prefer face to face but along with the welfare calls the telephone counselling which has continued throughout Lockdown has been well received.
Sadly we will not be offering any of the Support Groups on a face to face basis either but yoga will continue on a virtual basis for the foreseeable future. The recommencement of MLD will be reviewed on 1st October.
I am now working with the trustees to look at life beyond the pandemic. As we know cancer was here before CV-19, it was here during and the reality is it will continue to be into the future. As we stand the Charity is looking at a financial loss in the region of £150,000 for this financial year, this is just over 15% of our income for last year and this is assuming our budgeted income is achieved.
Ride for Helen 2020 will be taking place on Sunday 20th September. There will be social distancing measures in place but we are having to restrict the number of participants to 500 and we have had to reduce the number of routes. We know many people took up cycling during Lockdown so this is a great opportunity to get out on two wheels again and support a fantastic cause. Register now at www.rideforhelen.co.uk
The Christmas Gift & Food Fair should also be taking place at Chelmsford City Racecourse on 21st & 22nd November. Again, social distancing measures will be implemented. There are some stalls remaining and these can be booked by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Latest research states that one in two people will now be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life so if it isn’t you it is the person sat next to you, your colleague from work or your best friend. I want to ensure that in the coming months not only will the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity be working to capacity we will also be looking to extend our services. One of the positives from Lockdown that I have learnt is that virtual platforms can enable us to reach clients in a way that we had not used before and going forward these will not only continue but they will grow.
We have a great team of staff and volunteers who enable quality of life to people living with cancer but we cannot continue to do this without the support of the community. I know many people have been hit hard by the pandemic in many ways, my eldest son was made redundant and my younger son was in a very dark place with home schooling and isolation by friends.
If you are somebody who has kept working during the pandemic but not had to commute or buy your daily sandwich from a high street store or you want to help us to support more local people living with cancer your donation would be greatly appreciated.
In a couple of months I will have been with Helen Rollason Cancer Charity for 5½ years, in the post of CEO for 2 years. In my first year in this role I had the challenge of a large build project which resulted in a bespoke support centre at Hatfield Peverel. In my second year I have been challenged with a global pandemic which has shown how we can diversify and provide support to many. Don’t they say things happen in threes? I can promise that no matter what is thrown at me in 2021 I will endeavour to ensure that the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity is the leading cancer charity in the East of England.
With very best wishes
CEO – Helen Rollason Cancer Charity
Kate Alden – CEO Helen Rollason Cancer Charity