Thank you for your ongoing support

A MESSAGE FROM MERV REES

I hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and well in these most challenging of times.

I am writing to thank you for your ongoing support for Ark Cancer Centre Charity – it is much appreciated – and to give you an update on Ark’s £5million appeal and its mission to help fund and deliver supportive care and services, complementary therapies, and an enhanced environment for cancer patients and their loved ones. I also want to let you know how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on Ark’s ongoing work and fundraising.

In January, a meeting took place involving myself, Ark Cancer Centre Charity chair Sandra Fell, and members of the senior management team at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT). At this meeting, it was agreed that work on a well-being centre, that has been planned for the existing Radiotherapy Unit at Basingstoke hospital, would be progressed as a matter of urgency and priority.

This work will be funded by Ark Cancer Centre Charity, as will the supportive care and complementary therapies that will be provided to cancer patients and their families and carers in the new facilities. Our aim is to provide supportive treatment rooms and a counselling room. Ark Cancer Centre Charity will also fund the hire of rooms in The Ark Conference Centre for educational meetings that will enhance the support given to cancer patients and their families.

In addition, Ark Cancer Centre Charity will provide funding for key support staff, including a cancer dietician, a psychotherapist and an acupuncturist, all of whom will enhance delivery of vital care and support to cancer patients. HHFT is not in a position to fund any of these posts.

All of the above is a significant development. It will mean that, for the first time, HHFT will be able to provide radiotherapy, supportive care, and complementary therapies in a calm, relaxing and modern environment – an important step forward that also begins to fulfil the aims of Ark Cancer Centre Charity. This building work, and the provision of care and support, would not be possible without the help and support of Ark Cancer Centre Charity supporters.

As you know, HHFT’s long-standing goal is to deliver a state-of-the-art cancer treatment centre, and since 2017, we have focused on progressing those plans on the Basingstoke hospital site.

Last September, following a Government announcement of funding support for a business case, high-level discussions began between HHFT and other stakeholders about the provision of a new hospital that could serve Basingstoke and Deane and the wider HHFT community in Andover and Winchester. The future for cancer treatment, care and support is part of those ongoing conversations.

The consultations relating to the provision of a new hospital are progressing, and have taken a significant step forward today (June 1 - click here). They will take considerable time but when they are concluded, HHFT will be able to clarify where the cancer treatment centre will be located to best serve local people.

What I can assure you is that HHFT is committed to delivering enhanced and improved cancer care and services for local people in the short and long term. The success of Ark Cancer Centre Charity’s ongoing appeal to raise £5million – it is now nearing the £2.5m milestone – will be crucial to ensuring that we achieve our mutual goal.

Like all other charities, Ark’s work and fundraising plans for 2020 have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. In late March, work was about to start on the well-being centre, but for now this has been postponed due to the current lockdown, and the redeployment of HHFT staff to other duties during HHFT's response to the pandemic.

Every charity has had to cancel or postpone events, including Ark. One of our key fundraising campaigns for this year was Ark Day 2020, which was scheduled for late June. Last year, Ark Day raised more than £32,000 and our 2020 campaign was shaping up to be bigger and better. We are grateful to the Ark Day Organising Committee for all their hard work and support, and are delighted that the campaign will return in 2021.

On another positive note, the well-being centre project and the recruitment of the new HHFT staff will be restarted and progressed after the COVID-19 crisis has passed. When the centre opens, we look forward to inviting our Ark supporters to come along and see how their fundraising support has made a difference.

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact Mark Jones, Ark’s director of fundraising and communications, on mark.jones@arkcancercharity.org.uk, and he will be happy to help and respond. As always, updates will continue to appear on Ark Cancer Centre Charity’s social media channels and website.

Thanks again for your wonderful support. Myself, my fellow trustees, and the Ark Cancer Centre Charity team are thinking of you, and we hope you and your loved ones stay safe and well.

Kind regards and best wishes

Merv

Myrddin (Merv) Rees MS FRCS DL DSc - Ark Cancer Centre Charity Trustee