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Penny Brohn UK announces proposed restructure to protect cancer services in response to the impact of COVID-19 on its fundraising and income generation.

Commercial Director, Andrew Hufford, discusses the proposed restructure to protect cancer services at the charity.

Penny Brohn UK is currently facing the biggest challenge in its history. The coronavirus outbreak has had a devastating impact across the charity sector, and will continue to have a long-term impact on so many charities’ ability to raise money and provide services.

At Penny Brohn, we are facing an income shortfall of over £750,000 this year and will have to reduce our cost base accordingly.  For a charity that needs to raise around £2.5 million each and every year, this is a devastating blow. It is clear that the impact of coronavirus on fundraising is set to continue. We cannot afford to think only in the short term.

The charity has been severely hit by the loss of income from its primary funder plus cancellation of all its public fundraising events. In March we furloughed approximately 80% of staff.

In July the charity launched a change programme directly in response to the immediate impact of coronavirus on its fundraising and trading arms. At that time, we informed our staff that we would need to make an organisational restructure to survive the current crisis as well as for our medium and long-term sustainability.

It is essential that we make significant changes to the way we operate in order to protect our front-line services and ensure that we are still here for people living with cancer who need us now and in the future. It is because of this that we have begun this consultation with our staff teams, as we look to ensure that the organisation continues to maximise support to cancer patients on lower levels of income.

Penny Brohn UK has been supporting the holistic needs of people with cancer for 40 years. The charity moved its support for cancer patients online in April. We will continue to develop these services to meet the needs of cancer patients now and in the future. It is very unlikely that the Penny Brohn UK National Centre in Ham Green, near Bristol will be able to welcome back cancer patients for face-to-face services until 2021.

Andrew Hufford continues, "It was a heart-breaking decision to start the change consultation with staff. We planned great things for our 40th year. However the reality is that we will have to operate with, potentially, much less staff to ensure we protect direct services for people with cancer.

Every single member of staff at Penny Brohn UK is dedicated to making sure anyone with cancer and their families get the support they need. Which is why it is very difficult to lose people who have worked so hard and shown such team spirit – especially over the past few challenging months. But the sad reality is that this change cannot be avoided.

Events of the last few months have shown that even though people with cancer need support more than ever from charities like Penny Brohn UK; the ability to raise the money to provide these services is much more challenging.

Alongside excellent medical treatment, people need more than medicine to cope with the emotional and psychological impact of cancer. It is therefore essential that we refocus our limited resources into providing holistic support that is accessible to anyone who needs it now, and at the same time put ourselves in the best position to seek out opportunities to grow back stronger than ever.

It is a difficult time for everyone at Penny Brohn UK but we know that cancer is not stopping for coronavirus and we can’t either. As lockdown eases and we settle into our ‘new normal’, for anyone facing the terrifying reality of cancer diagnosis and treatment, this pandemic is one more huge obstacle for them on an already incredibly difficult path. It is our responsibility as a charity to change so that we can ensure we are still here for them.

We will be focusing on raising funds through hospitality and conference bookings until such time we can reopen the National Centre safely for cancer patients.

The organisation’s story began in 1979 when founder, Penny Brohn, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Penny, who grew up in Bristol, knew that she needed more than medicine when she received her diagnosis and she embraced a holistic approach to cancer care and support.

With her close friend Pat Pilkington, they set up the Bristol Cancer Help Centre to care for the “mind, body, spirit and emotions” of people with cancer. Penny Brohn died in 1999 and the charity moved into Ham Green in 2006 and rebranded to bear her name. HRH Prince Charles is the patron.

For media enquires contact Tracy Tait, Director of Brand and Marketing on 07720762866.

About the emotional and psychological impact of cancer

One in three people with cancer will experience a mental health problem such as depression or anxiety before, during or after treatment. A cancer diagnosis, its associated symptoms and treatment can have a significant emotional impact on people and their families, with fear, isolation, loss of self-esteem and loss of independence having an impact.

Help for you

For cancer support call our helpline on 0303 3000 118 or email helpline@pennybrohn.org.uk

Take a look at our cancer services here

Self-care resources for home here