Portsmouth cancer centre staff and volunteers 'feel cast aside' as they are left out of charity's emergency appeal

STAFF, volunteers and clients of a cancer support centre, that was marked for closure a week before an emergency appeal was launched to save the charity, have been left ‘disgusted’ at how they have been treated.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 2:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th December 2019, 5:47 pm
Wessex Cancer Trust support centre in High Street, Cosham

It was announced last month that the Wessex Cosham Cancer Support Centre would be closing before the New Year after bosses said they had decided to change the way it runs its services due to the increase of people living with cancer.

But just 12 days later chiefs of the Wessex Cancer Trust decided to launch an emergency appeal to raise £600,000 to save the charity and its other centres across the south coast.

Jackie Jones, who has been a volunteer at the centre in Cosham for the last two years after she retired from head of HR at Jobsite UK, told The News she was ‘disgusted’ by the decision.

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She said: ‘It is absolutely appalling. When we were told it was closing we were sent an email and there was no warning. Then we find out about the appeal from an email despite people getting made redundant and clients knowing the services will end soon.

‘I am shocked in the way it has been handled and people feel cast aside.’

Emily Warden was diagnosed with womb cancer back in 2016 and said the Cosham centre was ‘like a lifeline’.

The 34-year-old from Portsmouth said: ‘I was absolutely devastated when I found out and when I spoke to them about it they told me that there was still the counsellor at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

‘But if you have been diagnosed in hospital and then treated in hospital, you don’t want emotional support in hospital.’

The mum-of-two added: ‘I can see from a business sense if they closed the centre because it wasn’t bringing in enough donations but this isn’t a normal business. This is a charity giving people cancer support and it is awful the centre was not included in the appeal.’

Wessex Cancer Trust’s chief executive Cait Allen, said: ‘We are really sorry if some people in Portsmouth feel this way, and if we have come across as being insensitive.

‘We made the announcement that we would be closing the Cosham centre on November 6 as part of a strategy to consolidate our services in Hampshire. We took the decision to launch the crisis appeal on November 18.

‘The crisis appeal is a last resort and not a tactical campaign.’

The appeal, backed by ex Pompey manager Harry Redknapp, was launched on Tuesday and aims to raise £600,000 to save the charity by the end of January 2020.

The organisation has seen a 30 per cent increase in demand for its services this year and has also been hit by a 65 per cent reduction in people leaving a gift in their will.

Cosham centre staff said people had been donating and thinking that the appeal included saving the centre in the high street.

Ms Allen said: ‘If anyone from the Portsmouth area has been kind enough to donate to the crisis appeal I would like to assure them that although we will not be able to keep the Cosham support centre open, their money will be used to guarantee the future of cancer support services throughout the whole of Hampshire.’