A charity which supports people living with cancer is launching a crisis appeal to raise £600,000 by the end of January – or face closure.
Representatives from Wessex Cancer Trust, which is self-funded, say they are “heartbroken” to find themselves in such dire straits.
Dealing with patients throughout Hampshire, Dorset and Isle of Wight for the last 40 years, it has seen an increase of 30% for its services this year alone.
But it has also been hit by a reduction in people leaving money to the charity in their wills, sales at its High Street shop have fallen by another 15%.
Trust chairman Barry Rinaldi told the A&T: “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 31st January 2020. If we fail, we will not be there for the 165,000 people who will be facing a diagnosis by 2030.
“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.”
At present the charity supports around 11,000 people every year at their four cancer support centres which provide a drop-in service, professional counselling, complementary therapies, activities, support groups and courses.
The charity also runs out-reach services and a popular Sing For Life choir as well as providing transport to help patients get to their hospital appointments.
Mr Rinaldi 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.
“We do not receive any government funding and rely on voluntary donations and fund raising 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.”
Patients who have received help from the charity praised it for the support it has given them.
Julie Hooper, from Hythe, said: “I was diagnosed with a rare from of cancer and had to have a huge operation.
“The recovery was slow and painful. I knew I was lucky to be alive and this evoked a whole range of emotions. It had all been a huge shock, physically and emotionally, I couldn’t believe I was finding it so hard to cope and get on with life again.”
Julie sought help from the Wessex Cancer Trust who she found a great support. She said: “They have given me a renewed perspective on life.”
In 2014 there were just over 98,600 people living with cancer in the Wessex region. By 2030 it is estimated that there will be almost 165,000.
On 9th of January a board of trustees of the charity will meet to decide its future based on how the appeal has done.
To donate TEXT ‘SAVEWESSEX’ to 70085 to donate £10. This costs £10 plus standard rate message.
To donate online visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/savewessexcancertrust
For more information about the appeal visit www.wessexcancer.org.uk/savewessexcancertrust