The Cancer Research shop in Lerwick is reopening and the charity hopes others will follow later in the spring
While most of the country remains in lockdown, one charity shop in Scotland is back in business.
The Cancer Research UK shop on Shetland opened its doors yesterday (Mon Feb 22) for the first time since Christmas Eve.
All of mainland Scotland has remained in the toughest levels of restrictions since Boxing Day. But Shetland is one of just a few places in the UK where shops are still allowed to open.
It is among a few Scottish islands that are in level three restrictions. Latest figures show there were no cases of Covid-19 on the Shetland Islands in the last seven days.
Now staff and volunteers at the Cancer Research UK shop at Harrison Square Esplanade, Lerwick, are determined to help get the charity’s life-saving work back on track.
With its shops typically contributing more than £25m every year to vital research, the charity has suffered a dramatic loss of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dianne Gear, who is the manager of the Cancer Research UK shop in Shetland, knows firsthand how vital it is to fund research into gentler and more effective treatments for cancer. She was just eight years old when her own dad Tommy Moore died from bowel cancer. And ever since she’s worked tirelessly to give families more tomorrows with their loved ones.
Dianne said: “I grew up in a family who did everything they could to help people with cancer.
“I remember being involved in a first fundraising event when I was about nine. And I’m proud my own mum volunteered in the charity shop in Shetland for decades right up until last year, giving her time so generously to help beat cancer.
“The last time I was in the shop was Christmas Eve when there were still Christmas cards on the shelves. Over Christmas there was an outbreak of COVID-19 in Shetland so it was the right thing to do to remain closed after Christmas. The situation is looking much brighter in Shetland now so we’re proud to re-open this February but with strict Covid safety measures in place.
“We have such a warm community of staff and volunteers who help in the shop so it feels great to be back. Now we’ll get busy preparing the shop for spring. It still feels like winter in Shetland though so we definitely plan to keep our collection of cosy winter coats at the front of the shop for now.”
The Shetland branch is Cancer Research UK’s most northerly shop in the British Isles. As it reopens, it joins the charity’s most southerly shop in Jersey on the Channel Islands which is the only other Cancer Research UK shop currently open.
Now the charity is looking beyond lockdown and hoping government restrictions will ease this spring so all 600 of its shops across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales can open soon.
If the latest restrictions continue until the end of February across most of the UK, then a further loss of £13m is predicted. This is in addition to losses incurred from previous lockdowns when the charity shops were closed.
When restrictions are lifted, strict measures will be followed to ensure customers can shop, volunteer and donate goods safely.
These include social distancing, hand sanitiser stations, cough guards at till points, face coverings and gloves for shop staff and volunteers and additional cleaning.
There is also a 48-hour quarantine period for donated items. However, before dropping off goods, the charity recommends to phone ahead and check capacity on the day as the safety measures mean that storage space may be limited.
Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, Cancer Research UK currently funds around 50% of all cancer research in the UK. However, Cancer Research UK is predicting a staggering £300 million drop in income caused by Covid-19 over the next three years which could put future medical breakthroughs at risk.
Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman for Scotland, said: “To save lives tomorrow, we need the public’s support today
“Covid-19 has slowed us down. But we will never stop. With around 32,400 people diagnosed with cancer every year in Scotland, we are absolutely determined to continue creating better cancer treatments for the future.
“Every step our scientists take towards beating cancer relies on every pound raised. So, with the help of shoppers across Scotland we believe that together we will still beat cancer.”
But the good news is more people are surviving the disease now than ever before. Cancer survival in the UK has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.