Business leaders, trustees and friends from across Northern Ireland attended Charis Cancer Care’s 9th birthday celebration, which was held at Charis House in Lough Fea and hosted by the charity’s Patron, Jenny Bristow BEM.
Speaking at the event Jenny said: “It is my honour to be a part of the Charis team as Patron. Throughout the past nine years the charity has developed and grown beyond our wildest dreams and its reputation is steadfast as a place where those who battle cancer are provided with the utmost care when they need it most, or if the worst happens for families, as they deal with the loss of a loved one.”
Charity Founder, Jim Henry CBE, spoke about the journey the organisation has been on and how it provides a unique service to its clients: “It is hard to believe that it has been nine years since the doors opened here at Charis House. In that time we have been privileged to bear witness to the courage and determination of those who walk the winding road on their cancer journey.
“Charis Cancer Care does more than just support those who have been diagnosed with the disease. It also supports the families, friends and loved ones of those people and in the time since Charis opened almost 8,000 individual people have come through these doors.
“Charis creates a place for meaningful care and attention and the emotional support that is essential for all those who carry this burden and those who care for them and for those who have lost loved ones through this terrible disease. The cancer journey can be a lonely one for many people and the care shown here can make that journey a bit more bearable.”
The charity is planning an extension to its current footprint at Lough Fea, as it aims to offer greater numbers of cancer patients and those impacted by cancer, counselling, complementary support and therapies. The new facility will provide two new treatment rooms for the delivery of complementary therapies by trained practitioners and a seminar room for group activities.
Charis Chairperson, Dr Ben Glancy, spoke about the past year and the charity’s achievements over that time: “I’ve been involved with Charis from the outset and working as a GP in the local community I have seen first-hand the positive impact it has for people who have cancer, and their families. Unfortunately cancer is becoming more and more common with the latest statistics showing 1 in 2 people will face cancer in their lifetime. I certainly can see evidence of this within my surgery on a weekly basis.
“One thing we must always remember is that behind every statistic is a person, a family, friends, colleagues, all of whom are impacted and all of whom are thrown into this journey, where life as they have known it changes. Charis Cancer Care is a charity which supports people affected by cancer at every stage of their journey including their families and supporters of those living with cancer or any family member bereaved by cancer.”
One of the charity’s trustees, Kirsty McManus, and National Director of IoD in Northern Ireland highlighted the importance of the service to the community across Northern Ireland and the importance of its donors and sponsors: “Almost 8,000 people have accessed Charis’ services to date and on average, there are 120 centre user per month. As an independent charity Charis does not receive government funding and relies exclusively on support from the local community and businesses to raise funds.
“The annual running costs for the centre are currently in the region of £350,000. I can’t thank all our current donors and volunteers enough. Their generosity makes a massive difference to people’s quality of life and well-being and helps Charis to keep doing what it does best.”
The charity receives donations from many local people and relies heavily on local and regional businesses to support Charis. Supporters at the event included BP McKeefry, Glenavon House Hotel, Tesco, LCC Group, and Keystone Lintels.
Local businesswoman, Cathy McKeefry from BP McKeefry, congratulated the team on their achievements: “I am delighted to be here as a donor and supporter of Charis Cancer Care. This service is invaluable to the local community and many people I know have been touched by cancer and without a place like Charis to provide care and support, their journey would be so much more difficult. BP McKeefry are so happy to have been able to help in a small way to fund these invaluable services.
“It was also fantastic news that Charis Cancer Centre Director, Imelda McGucken, was awarded an MBE for services to nursing and palliative care in Northern Ireland in the New Year’s Honours List. It shows how committed the team is to the services they provide.”
Peter Stafford, Partner in A&L Goodbody in Belfast, who is also a trustee of Charis said: “I am delighted to be a member of the Trustee Board of Charis and it is fantastic to see the level of support here from the business community across Northern Ireland.
“As a relatively recent member of the board I have been impressed with the level of commitment and dedication shown to the needs of people with cancer and their families by Imelda McGucken MBE and the team. I look forward to seeing the impact of the new extension on the level of services here and to continue with the legacy of Charis into the future.”
Anyone wishing to become a volunteer at Charis Cancer Care or make a donation to Charis to support cancer patients, their families and those bereaved with cancer, should contact Director of Fundraising Veronica Morris on 028 8676 9217 or 07738 492541 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All donations go straight to the charity.