HRCC and Covid; an update from CEO Kate Alden

I hope you are doing well and staying as positive as possible during these challenging times.

I thought I would give you an update on what has been has been happening over the last few weeks and what the plans are for the coming weeks for Helen Rollason Cancer Charity. Before I do I would like to say thank you to everybody who has made donations to the Charity, the people who have taken time to comment on posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to the people who have sent emails or texts to say thank you for being there for me and the volunteers and staff who are asking when they can come back. I will be honest and say I, like most people, have had some dark days but the continued support we receive motivates me even more and I promise I will do my best to ensure that when some form of normality resumes we will be providing as many services, if not more, than we did before Lockdown.

As many of you will know our Support Centres and Shops all closed on 23rd March in line with Government guidelines with the majority of staff being put on furlough leave. Knowing how important our services are to our clients meant we have had to diversify the support we could provide at this time and implemented welfare calls, by telephone, to clients and volunteers. I am very proud to say that to date the therapists have had 923 conversations and left 389 messages. These have been very well received – listening to clients who have had medical treatment cancelled or scans delayed, sign posting people to the range of online and virtual support groups such as mindfulness and yoga that we have set up or have a general chat has been hugely beneficial. We have also been providing emergency and crisis counselling sessions, again by telephone, to clients who have needed it.

I wish I could tell you when we are going to be re-opening the Support Centres but I cannot. What I can say is that they will reopen once it is in the best interest of our clients and also staff and volunteers. The welfare of all is paramount and this will not be compromised. When we do reopen I am anticipating a staggered start – it may be that not all centres reopen at the same time – and probably on reduced hours and limited activities. Once I know the revised working practices and procedures can be implemented services will then be extended.

It is the same for our shops. I am looking at reopening one of the shops in the next few weeks but unless we are confident social distancing can be adhered to while safeguarding our staff and volunteers this will be postponed. All updates will be on our website and also on our social media pages.

As is the case for so many charities and businesses the pandemic has impacted our budgeted income. Ride for Helen should have taken place in May but this has been rescheduled to Sunday 20th September 2020. We may have to restrict numbers and change the Registration and Sign-Out process but I am confident this will take place. Online registration is available www.rideforhelen.co.uk

Also our eBay shop has reopened and sales have picked up quickly. Have a browse, I guarantee social distancing is not an issue in this shop – it stocks something for everybody – children’s clothing to fishing equipment, porcelain figures to designer clothing. I know that many people used some of Lockdown to have a sort out and tidy cupboards and sheds. If you have anything you think we could sell on eBay then please let me know.

So many of the fabulous events hosted by supporters, businesses and in the community have been cancelled. I know some will be rescheduled but others, which I fully understand, cannot. To try and recoup some of the deficit in the income I have launched an Online Raffle. Tickets are £5 each with an opportunity to win some fabulous prizes. I appreciate that for some people £5 is a big ask but for anybody who does buy a ticket I would like to say the money will be spent wisely.

Here is one example of how we make a difference:

“The counsellor had given me back my joy in life, she had taught me how to deal with my own worries with methods to enable me to deal with worries and fear as they come along. I have hope again and even look more to the future with plans that I had long shelved. Cancer will be here long after Covid 19 – please help to ensure that the Helen Rollason Charity is also still here.”

For those people who have met me you will know I am always happy to talk. If you have any queries or suggestions, if you need some information or want to let me know what we could be doing better than please call me on 07730 209442 or email kate.alden@helenrollason.org.uk

Thank you and stay safe.

Kate Alden – CEO of Helen Rollason Cancer Charity.

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