Breast Cancer Haven suspends services after Covid-19 losses

20 Apr 2021 News

Breast Cancer Haven is suspending much of its work and has told all staff they are at risk of redundancy, after losing significant levels of income during the Covid-19 crisis.

The charity, which provides support to patients and families after breast cancer diagnosis, said that all new services have been “paused”, although treatments already underway will continue until the end of June. Trustees are still discussing what will happen after that date.

Breast Cancer Haven warned last summer that its future was at risk, after voluntary income fell by 50% at the beginning of the pandemic.

It had an income of just under £4m for the financial year ending 31 May 2020, and £3.35m of its income came from donations and legacies. 

The charity is hoping to raise enough money to cover ongoing services until the end of June.

'Catastrophic' losses

Breast Cancer Haven announced a number of cost-cutting measures in July, including permanently closing two of its five centres and making 13 members of staff redundant.

A third centre was closed later in the year, according to the charity’s annual accounts for 2019-20. It said the pandemic and lockdown had resulted in “a catastrophic reduction in our fundraising income”.

The three buildings have been put up for sale but not yet sold.

All members of staff took a 20% reduction in their salaries at the beginning of the first national lockdown in March.

Sally Hall, the chief executive of Breast Cancer Haven, said at the time that “the longer-term impact of the loss of income has put the future of the charity at risk”.

In the charity's most recent accounts, the auditor, Moore Kingston Smith, states that “a material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on the company's ability to continue as a going concern”.

Difficult decisions

In a statement about the lastes developments, published online last week, the charity said: “It is with huge sadness that Breast Cancer Haven’s board of trustees have made the extremely difficult decision to suspend operations for the time being. 

“This means we will be pausing the delivery of our live online service and with great regret, putting all our staff at risk of redundancy.”

The charity currently has 26 employees.

The statement continued: “In common with many charities around the world, as a result of the pandemic, our income has decreased significantly. 

“At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, we were forced to close our five centres and other in-hospital face-to-face services. Since then, we have been providing our services online.

“Despite a series of cost cutting measures including saying goodbye to valued colleagues, we are not able to continue normal operations at this time.

“This means that we will be pausing the delivery of our live online services that have helped around 1,800 people by providing over 10,000 appointments since lockdown began in March 2020.”

The trustees praised “the most wonderful team of staff, self-employed therapists and volunteers” for their “hard work and dedication”.

Fundraising for £100,000

Breast Cancer Haven “will continue with our regular groups and classes for a long as possible”, the statement added, and will direct visitors to other sources of advice and support. 

It is fundraising for £100,000 to cover delivery of its ongoing services until the end of June.

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