Beating bowel cancer together

An update on the charity

Thursday 24 September 2020

We want to update you on the work we have been doing in recent months, and let you know about some changes we are making at the charity due to the impact of coronavirus.

The pandemic has dealt a massive blow, and people with bowel cancer have been among the many affected by cancelled or delayed surgery or treatment. In addition, bowel cancer screening services have been paused for some months now, meaning around 1.7 million opportunities to screen for the disease have been missed – this will have an obvious life-limiting effect on some cases which may have ordinarily been diagnosed early.

How we have been supporting people affected by bowel cancer

Throughout the pandemic, we have been doing everything we can to provide help and support to people with bowel cancer, their friends and families. We listened to what our community told us they needed - which was up-to-date information and support – and provided it in the form of our coronavirus hub. We have continued to highlight the needs of people affected by the disease, raising awareness through the media and our social channels, and providing a voice for patients at meetings with the NHS and other bodies to advocate for cancer services to return as safely and swiftly as possible.

But coronavirus has come at a great cost to us and, as a result of major fundraising events like the London Marathon, Great North Run and our own Walk Together events being cancelled, we are seeing losses across all areas of our income with a predicted overall shortfall of around £1.5 million in 2020 alone.

Our remaining fundraising team has pulled out all the stops to ensure our community has every opportunity to give and get involved, encouraging people to sign up for events like the 2.6 challenge, which took place virtually instead of the Marathon, and our virtual Walk Together events. We have seen an amazing number of people taking part and raising money for our important cause in these events and who have given time and money in so many more ways, and we are incredibly grateful to everybody for their continued efforts.

Our structure and the future of the charity 

While we acted quickly at the start of the pandemic to cut costs, taking advantage of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, we are unable to make up the financial shortfall and have been left with no other option but to make a number of our valued staff redundant.

We have carried out a consultation with the whole organisation about our new structure, designed to ensure we can continue its important work in the future. But as a consequence, we have sadly begun to say goodbye to 15 people.

We believe we will recover and rebuild in the coming years, and know that we can do this with the continued dedication and energy from our staff, and from volunteers and supporters like you. With the creativity and energy of our amazing community we see every day, we know we can, and will, rise to challenges which come our way. We are absolutely determined, always, to be here for people affected by bowel cancer today and in the future.

We are the only national charity wholly dedicated to the needs of people affected by bowel cancer, and we're determined to save lives and improve the quality of life of everyone with the disease. We support and fund targeted research, provide expert information and support to patients and their families, educate the public and professionals about the disease and campaign for early diagnosis and access to best treatment and care.

Medical research across the UK has taken a terrible hit and, in particular, cancer clinical trials which all but stopped during the pandemic. We have taken the difficult decision to pause funding on any new projects in 2021, but we are determined to restart funding as soon as possible. We continue to support our 13 ongoing research projects, and our patient network, which brings patients and researchers together to co-create new research ideas.

Throughout this time, we have continued to provide our core information and support services. We have also responded to our community's request for tips on physical and emotional wellbeing and opportunities to hear from clinical experts. And, to help people feel more connected, we developed and piloted a new service to bring patients together virtually for weekly peer-to-peer support. This Chat Together service has been well-received and we are now preparing to scale the service up with support from trained volunteer facilitators.

As we now reset and grow, we look forward to continuing to adapt and deliver services and bring our community together to meet the changing needs of people affected by bowel cancer.

We are only as strong as the community that surrounds and supports us. We know that the generosity and energy of everyone fundraising and donating to us is key to our recovery from the impacts of the pandemic. If you want to find out more about how to give or get involved, please have a look at our website here.

We will be forever grateful to everyone for their compassion, practical offers of help, and understanding through these unprecedented times. We wish each one of the staff we are losing the best of luck in the future, and I'm deeply and personally sorry that we are saying goodbye to them in these circumstances. I'd like to say a heartfelt thank you to you too, for your continued support in the most difficult times the charity has faced.

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