Vulnerable cancer patients need more support than ever as anxiety over COVID19 grows

The Marie Keating Foundation is urgently appealing for the public’s help as it faces an unprecedented situation with fundraising curtailed and services stretched.

Due to the essential decisions that have been made by the Government in relation to gatherings and social distancing, the Marie Keating Foundation has been forced to cancel all of its upcoming fundraisers, which has had an immediate impact on the cancer charity’s income.
As a result, the Marie Keating Foundation is making an urgent appeal for the public’s help as they face an unprecedented situation with fundraising being curtailed and services stretched.

The cancer charity receives no government funding and relies heavily on its own- and third-party events and campaigns to fund its lifesaving cancer prevention, awareness and support services.

Director of Fundraising Linda Keating explains “The Marie Keating Foundation is so reliant on our main source of income, namely our own events and the public getting behind us with fun runs, coffee mornings, sponsored cycles, overseas walks and taking part in events like the Mini Marathon etc, that for all of these to be cancelled immediately with little notice is potentially devastating for us. We really do need the public’s help to help us continue to offer help to those we support who are now more vulnerable than ever.”

The Foundation has taken proactive steps to ensure it is adapting its services so that vital support for cancer patients and survivors continues. As part of the collective effort to halt the spread of COVID19 a number of the Marie Keating Foundation nurses have been redeployed to work in the HSE in contact tracing and on helplines. The Foundation is also adapting many of its face to face support services into online or webinar format to ensure that vulnerable patients do not feel alone during this challenging time.

“We took the difficult decision to suspend our monthly Positive Living patient support group meetings for women living with metastatic breast cancer, but this is a group that badly needs advice and support particularly during this time of uncertainty and isolation. Our nurses are continuing to hold these meetings s with members on-line and are in daily communication with the group via messaging services. What is crucial is that our services continue to operate, offering help to those who rely on it now more than ever. Our team and nurses are here, and we are open to help anyone who needs it. To do this we do need the public’s help.” says Director of Nursing, Helen Forristal

One of the Foundation’s important services the Comfort Fund, which gives one off financial grant to cancer patients struggling financially during treatment, has faced unprecedented levels of demand in recent years. Applications have increased by 392% since 2013. In those years, MKF has supported 3,679 families with Comfort Fund grants throughout the whole of Ireland. Despite attempts to secure government funding and other income sources, the overall fund is entirely funded through the Foundation’s own fundraising efforts. Due to the impact of COVID19 in reducing the Foundation’s income, the difficult decision has been taken to suspend the Comfort Fund immediately.

Liz Yeates, CEO “the recent advice from public health officials and the Government has had an immediate impact on our income and our services. Our Board has taken the difficult but responsible decision to suspend the Comfort Fund to ensure we can continue to operate and adapt our other core frontline support services. We are very much aware of the impact of this decision and will work closely with our Board, medical social workers and key stakeholders to minimise the impact and we will be reviewing the decision on an ongoing basis. We have at many times sought support from other funding sources for our fund as we recognise how critical it can be for those who receive it but unfortunately, we have not been successful. At a time when our income is dropping, we have no choice but to suspend the fund. We very much hope it can be reinstated when the situation improves.”

Members of the public are being urged to donate if they can online at www.mariekeating.ie/donate or by setting up a Facebook Fundraiser.

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