Cancer Research UK has seen its volunteer numbers drop by half
Caring Sharon Smith who lost her cousin to cancer has been chosen to launch an appeal for Scots to give the gift of time this Christmas and help get life saving research back on track.
Sharon was heartbroken when Laura Barr died aged 51 after a four year battle with a brain tumour. The cousins were born within months of each other and grew up together sharing the same family parties and Christmas celebrations. Now Sharon is spearheading an urgent campaign for people to sign up to volunteer in Cancer Research UK’s 83 shops across Scotland. The ongoing Covid-19 crisis has prompted a nationwide call for help as the charity battles to claw back millions of pounds in lost income.
Last year, Cancer Research UK shops across Scotland raised more than £13.5 million. But in 2020 after months of devastating shop closures due to lockdown, the charity saw the number of volunteers drop by nearly half. Shop closures during lockdown and fundraising event cancellations, mean the charity is expecting a staggering £160 million drop in income across the UK in the year ahead.
Sharon, who is the manager of the Cancer Research UK shop at High Street, Fort William, knows exactly how vital it is that funds continue to be raised for research in to gentler and more effective treatments for cancer. She thinks every day of her cousin Laura Barr, a former staff nurse at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, Renfrewshire who died from brain cancer on 14 March 2018.
Sharon, 53, said: “I miss Laura’s laughter, her smile and that sparkle which was always in her eyes.
“I was so proud of Laura and I know that through her job as a staff nurse she helped many people. All through her illness, Laura was thinking about others and about how she could support research so other families would benefit from better treatments for cancer in the future. Laura raised more than £5,000 when she took part in Race for Life with us after being diagnosed so I think she’d understand exactly why now more than ever it’s important to keep things going. Sadly the curve doesn’t flatten for cancer so we’re appealing for people to give the gift of their time this winter and volunteer to help in the Cancer Research UK shops in Scotland. If anyone out there is thinking of volunteering, I’d say don’t hesitate. It’s a great feeling to be part of a community helping to beat cancer and you’d get a very warm welcome.”
Latest figures show that Cancer Research UK has lost nearly 3,500 shop volunteers across the UK since June. This includes many dedicated volunteers with decades of experience who have been unable to return to the charity shop floor due to health reasons during the pandemic. But the charity needs help now to keep its shops running at full capacity in the lead-up to Christmas.
Around 32,400 people are diagnosed with cancer and around 16,100 people die from cancer each year in Scotland. 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.
Cancer Research UK spokeswoman in Scotland, Lauren Robertson said: “Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives but that’s only possible thanks to the commitment of our supporters and volunteers.
“We take the safety of all volunteers and staff extremely seriously and we have strict COVID procedures in place to enable our shops to operate safely. No experience is necessary to apply to volunteer, just motivation and the desire to be part of a team.
“Many volunteers come in just one morning or afternoon a week, or sometimes just help over the busy lunchtime period. A few hours can make a huge difference and it can be a great way of adding to your CV. No matter how much time a person can give or what their experience, we are urging people to get in touch.”
Tasks can include everything from sorting through donated stock to dressing the shop window or serving customers at the till.
To find out more about how you can volunteer or donate, pop in to the shop at 8 Tweedale buildings, High Street, Fort William or call 01397 705116.
People can also sign up or to find out more about volunteering at shops across Scotland by visiting: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/get-involved/volunteer/volunteer-in-our-shops