IT HAS been a support base for thousands with cancer across the Wessex region for 40 years.

But from today onwards, those people and their families may have nowhere left to turn as time and money could be running out for Wessex Cancer Trust.

How you can help save Wessex Cancer Trust in charity's £600,000 appeal

The self-funded charity, which provides free emotional and practical support to anyone living with cancer in Hampshire, Dorset and Isle of Wight, has launched a crisis appeal to raise £600,000 by January 31 2020 or it risks having to close.

Financial strains hit the service following a 30 percent increase in demand for its services this year.

The charity usually receives around £450,000 a year from people who have left donation gifts in their will.

But it has been hit by a 65 percent reduction in people doing this while a decline in the high street saw sales fall in its seven charity shops by 15 percent.

A large money gift was promised to the charity but was delayed and the charity fell into its first crisis.

Conservative parliamentary candidate for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford and former cancer minister Steve Brine is urging people to support the cancer support service.

Steve said: “There is a very real possibility that vital cancer support services for local people will be lost at the end of January. This is a devastating prospect. The recently published NHS Long Term Plan has a strong focus on diagnosis, meaning more and more people will be living with cancer and for longer.

“As these numbers continue to increase, so will the demand for Wessex Cancer Trust’s services. Being there for others is at the heart of everything Wessex Cancer Trust does. I’m urging everyone to come together to support the charity so that local families can continue to receive the best possible care throughout their cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery.”

Wessex Cancer Trust helps around 11,000 people every year through its four support centres in Chandler’s Ford, Bournemouth, Hythe and Isle of Wight.

Fiona Roy, from Hamble, turned to the charity for counselling and family support.

After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and receiving surgery and chemotherapy, Fiona was given the all-clear.

But in 2015, Fiona was told the cancer was back and had spread to her lungs.

She said: “I felt fear, sadness and the loss of so many dreams. Training [for London Marathon] hurt some days, but not as much as having cancer hurts.

“I’m so very grateful to Wessex Cancer Trust for giving me the chance to live this dream. Over the years their support has been vital to me and my family. They can’t make us better, but they can definitely help us feel better. That, in the here and now, is worth so much."

If the charity fails to raise the money, chairman Barry Rinaldi said it would be "heartbreaking".

He said: “Since 1981 Wessex Cancer Trust has been there for local people at a particularly tough time in their lives. Being told you have cancer is devastating. Living with it can be incredibly lonely and affects all aspects of your life. We work tirelessly to give people a safe place to get support regardless of age, gender or type of cancer, away from a hospital environment.

“We do not receive any Government funding and rely on voluntary donations and fundraising to run our services.

“One in two of us will get cancer and an increasing number of us are living longer after a cancer diagnosis, meaning more and more people will need us in the future. Throughout 2019, we have worked hard to ensure we can continue to meet the growing and diverse needs of people living with cancer in future.

“We have recently launched a strategy which outlines how we will evolve services to care for every person in a way that best meets their individual needs. In the long term, this will enable us to help more people and improve our financial sustainability. But we’ve been struggling to stabilise our financial situation. We have worked tirelessly to explore all income sources and make cost savings, but now have no other option than to ask for urgent help.

“This is not a Christmas appeal or a planned campaign, it is a last resort. We have never needed to run a crisis appeal before but now urgently need to raise £600,000 by 31 January 2020. If we fail, we will not be there for the 165,000 people who will be facing a cancer diagnosis by 2030 and their loved ones.

“This would be a heartbreaking end to almost four decades of crucial support and it is particularly upsetting given our plans for the future of local cancer care. For almost 40 years we've supported families through their toughest times. Now we are facing ours and urge you to help if you can.”

To donate, text SAVEWESSEX to 70085 or visit