SALLY Clifford on how a local cancer charity has been helping people in lockdown:

“We are still here for you.”

That message - symbolised with a daisy on the Cancer Support Yorkshire website - is one that Sarah Wood, the charity’s Executive Director, is keen to emphasise.

Within two days of Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing the lockdown in Britain on March 23 to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the charity - much like the rest of the nation’s organisations and industries - adapted to a completely new way of working.

Working from their homes and kitchen tables, the team at Cancer Support Yorkshire - which has centres in Bradford and Skipton - has continued to provide practical and emotional support to people who are affected by cancer.

“We have been able to provide the vast majority of our services,” says Sarah. “Our essential services of welfare rights and counselling and one-to-one therapy sessions such as Emotional Freedom Technique continue through phone calls and online.

“The services we haven’t been haven’t been able to offer are aromatherapy, reflexology and massage and our personalised transport service taking patients to hospital appointments.”

Weekly online activities such as Create and Chat - in which people make things to raise funds - art sessions and the Wednesday ‘Big Emotions’ workshop, for those newly diagnosed with cancer, are facilitated through online video conferencing services.

A WhatsApp keeps people connected between sessions.

One Create and Chat user says: “I really appreciate the way Zoom has helped maintain the bond we have with each other in the group and to enabled us to have a bit of fun during lockdown. Oscar the dog likes it too.”

Many people have found new friendships through the Big Emotions Group. Benefits include sharing feelings, ideas, experiences and coping strategies. Participants say being involved with the group makes them feel less isolated and that they’re not going through it alone - they can access support when they need it.

The diverse group focuses on various treatments for all cancer types and provides a confidential, safe space for anything people want to discuss. One-to-one support is also available.

Supporting those whose treatment has been impacted during the coronavirus crisis, arranging care packages and sign-posting those who are self-isolating on to shopping services is also part of the service.

Lockdown has been particularly stressful for people who have cancer, with treatments and appointments often put on hold while the NHS deals with coronavirus cases. So the emotional and practical support that cancer charities offer is particularly vital at this time.

“I am really proud to be part of this organisation and the way we have adapted to this situation,” says Linda Enderby, Lead Fundraiser, Events and Community for Cancer Support Yorkshire. “We are so passionate about our clients and their needs.”

Established more than 30 years ago, Cancer Support Yorkshire supports around 3,000 patients a year in Bradford, Craven, Wharfedale and surrounding areas. In 2017 it launched its first charity shop - Preloved - in Skipton which is expected to re-open this month.

Sarah anticipates that the technology the charity is now using to communicate will continue - particularly for those who are anxious about going out as the lockdown eases, those whose immune systems are already compromised and those feeling isolated.

“The social isolation has had a massive impact on everyone,” says Sarah. “But we have been able to bend, flex and adapt quickly for when people need support the most.”

As well as providing services for clients such as Next Steps - a collaborative initiative with BTHFT, Macmillan and West Yorkshire & Harrogate Cancer Alliance which supports those who are reaching the end of their treatment - the charity has continued to take new referrals throughout the lockdown period.

But like many charities, Cancer Support Yorkshire relies heavily on fundraising, and the pandemic has had a significant impact on this year’s events.

Linda says they are now focussing on virtual fundraising events, such as the charity’s annual Pink Lunch, held in October, which may move online this year. The charity’s fundraising team is encouraging people to share their own ideas for ways of raising vital funds.

The charity has had many positive comments from those who have experienced support firsthand.

After being diagnosed with lung cancer, Mena Williams decided to raise money for the charity which she says has helped her “every step of the way”. So far Mena’s Go Fund Me page for her fundraising head shave has raised £2,660.

Another grateful charity user expressed their appreciation: “Thank you for taking the time to make sure we are okay, it’s good to know you’re still there.”

Says Linda: “Consciously we have not asked for donations - for us it’s been all about what we can give - but we need to make sure we are here after all this is over, so any support going forward will help us to continue for many more years to come.”

* To find out more about Cancer Support Yorkshire visit

Call the Bradford Centre on (01274) 776688 or Skipton on (01756) 228088.

Email and contact the fundraising team at