HAMPSHIRE residents are being urged to "shop to save lives" as Cancer Research UK stores open after three months of "devastating closures".

After being closed for three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, the majority of the charity’s shops– including those in Southampton, Romsey and Gosport are getting back to business to tackle a shortfall in funding caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With its shops typically contributing more than £25m every year to vital research, Cancer Research UK has suffered a dramatic loss of income since they were forced to close temporarily at the end of March, and now people across the county are being urged to shop to save lives.

Jenny Makin, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the South East, said: “To save lives tomorrow, we need the public’s support today - so we want people to know we’re making every effort to create a safe shopping experience.

“COVID-19 has hit us hard and after three long months we’re delighted to be able to welcome new and familiar faces back through our doors again, as well as a host of new donations.

“Our shops are full of new and pre-loved items, fashion one-offs and homeware treasures – particularly after lockdown clear-outs. As well as being sold at bargain prices, every sale helps to fund our work. But right now, clinical trials are being postponed and we’re having to delay vital research.

“That’s why we’re asking our customers to do what they can. Whether they shop, donate goods or volunteer their time – all are essential to help us keep making breakthroughs for people with cancer.”

Cancer Research UK currently funds around 50% of all cancer research in the UK, but as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, it expects to see its fundraising income decline by up to 30 per cent in the financial year ahead – putting this research at risk.

Jenny added: “COVID-19 has slowed us down. But we will never stop. With around 51,400 people diagnosed with cancer every year in the South East, we are absolutely determined to continue creating better cancer treatments for the future.

For those who need to stay at home, the charity’s online stores are also up and running.