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Cancer Relief launches fundraising drive as donations plummet amid virus crisis

Against the backdrop of the Covid-19 crisis, Cancer Relief Gibraltar said it has noted a marked decrease in donations since the virus struck Gibraltar, raising concern about the charity’s future prospects.

The charity told the Chronicle it will need to raise up to £100,000 this year to continue offering the current level of service to over 150 patients.

“It is a very worrying time for the charity at a time when we are needed now more than ever,” Marisa Desoiza, Chairperson for Cancer Relief Gibraltar, said.

“We have not stopped offering services at this time.”

“Cancer Relief is one of the biggest charities in Gibraltar and although financially sound at present, there is no guarantee this will continue because of a dramatic drop in donations.”

“We want to continue to offer our services for as long as it’s financially possible.”

But with social distancing measures put in place here and elsewhere, events such as the London Marathon, the Med Steps Challenge and other fundraising initiatives have been cancelled, and this has meant that the charity has seen a reduction in donations since the beginning of the year.

It costs an average of £280,000 for the charity to run each year, to pay for things such as staff, insurance, rent, utility bills and more at the charity’s facility.

In the first quarter of this year, the charity has seen donations drop by £17,000 in comparison to this time last year.

And in April last year, the JustGiving donations amounted to over £1,600. This year the charity has received £49 during the same period.

The charity has now followed in the footsteps of other cancer charities in the United Kingdom such as MacMillan Cancer Support and has launched an emergency fundraising initiative.

It has also launched various online fundraising events such as a quiz night on its Facebook page and fitness sessions by Kyrone Watson, which he runs in exchange for donations.

Cancer Relief is encouraging members of the public to start their own fundraising initiatives online.

Since the start of the coronavirus emergency, the charity has taken its services online where possible and there are now waiting lists for the counselling, relaxation and mindfulness services it offers over the phone or online.

“The numbers of patients are still up and we are finding that the costs are still there but the fundraising is drying up,” Mrs Desoiza said.

“If people are feeling fearful and anxious since the start of the coronavirus crisis, imagine how people who have cancer feel.”

“The impact of social isolation plus the impact of their own illness has increased the levels of fear among patients and their families.” Increase in the workload we have, though we don’t have the patients using the services in the normal way.”

“Wherever possible, we use virtual ways in providing our services, which is separate to the chemotherapy unit run by the GHA at the Cancer Relief premises at the moment.”

The Cancer Relief Centre is split between the Centre, which is funded by the charity itself, and the Hospice Outreach Unit funded by the Gibraltar Government.

But it is the charity which needs the community’s help.

“We are all under great financial pressure and we understand that companies and individuals, the community as a whole, are going to go through financial hardship and we appreciate that,” Mrs Desoiza said.

“But that is why it makes it more difficult for us to highlight the need to carry on giving money to Cancer Relief.”

“What we offer now is essential to the people we serve, the patients and the carers.”

“We are beginning to get very worried for the charity.”