Closure of Breast Cancer Haven in Titchfield leaves staff, volunteers and patients 'devastated'

STAFF, volunteers and patients at a cancer support centre have been left ‘devastated’ after they were told today that it would close permanently.

By Millie Salkeld
Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 5:35 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 5:52 pm
Members of a support group at Breast Cancer Haven, in The Square, Titchfield.
Members of a support group at Breast Cancer Haven, in The Square, Titchfield.

Bosses at the Breast Cancer Haven sent an email out this afternoon to tell staff and volunteers that the Wessex centre in Titchfield, and also its centre in Solihull, would be closed permanently due to a 50 per cent drop in voluntary income because of the Covid-19 crisis.

It was also announced there would be redundancies but no information was shared on how many staff this affected.

Staff and patients have been left with many questions over the decision including Jackie Evans, who volunteers at the centre and used its services in 2013.

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The Breast Cancer Haven, Wessex with a flower wall created by florist Susie Babington Picture: Sarah Standing (180726-5308)

The 52-year-old from Hedge End said: ‘We got an email at 1pm today and that was the first we heard about it.

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‘It is absolutely devastating. The centre is amazing and they provided me with such a lot of support as they do for everyone who comes through the door.

‘We want them to be more transparent about how they came to this decision as the other centres will be reopening so we want to know why us and Solihull were chosen.

Fans get to meet the celebrities before Breast Cancer Haven's Christmas concert last year Picture: Habibur Rahman.

‘We also want to know what is happening to the money that we have fundraised already as we did that to benefit people on the south coast – so where will that go now?’

The charity, which launched an urgent donation appeal back in March and furloughed 70 per cent of staff at the Titchfield centre in April, offered breast cancer patients 10 free hours of supportive therapy time, as well as two hours with a specialist nurse.

It had many celebrity backers including actors Hugh Bonneville and Sarah Parish, and newsreaders Alastair Stewart and the BBC’s Sally Taylor, who was a patron of the centre.

Marlena Kudas was having therapy at the centre.

The 33-year-old from Havant said: ‘It is such a shame that is it closing for good.

‘It is a place that supports women and helps them cope with the mental side of going through cancer. There are support groups for people of all ages and I think it was such a good centre.’

Sally Hall, chief executive of Breast Cancer Haven said: ‘The decision to close two of our centres has not been taken lightly. Unfortunately, the financial conditions imposed by the pandemic have left us very little choice, and we must put the people who have breast cancer and their families at the heart of our decisions, to ensure we are able to be there for them in the future.’