Rare and less common cancer charities come together to tackle pandemic’s impact through inspirational new fundraiser, 20 for 20

Twenty charities representing people affected by rare and less common cancers have joined forces in a major new fundraising campaign. Brought together by national bone and soft tissue cancer charity Sarcoma UK, the event is a response to the devastating disruption to charities supporting these cancer patients caused by Covid-19.  

Inspired by the nationwide success of the 2.6 Challenge earlier this year, the charities, which include Target Ovarian Cancer, blood cancer charity DKMS and Brain Tumour Research, are asking their supporters to take on 20 for 20 starting on the launch day of Sunday 20 September 2020. Participants can do any challenge or activity based on the number 20 across 20 consecutive days, whether that’s running 20 minutes a day, baking 20 cakes or simply 20 burpees every morning. 

Rare and less common cancers account for 47% of cancers diagnosed and more than half (55%) of all cancer deaths in England.1 More than 87,000 people are diagnosed every year with the cancers represented by the 20 for 20 charities.i  These charities, Many charities who support patients with rare and less common cancers are also the drivers of key research in these areas., Together the 20 for 20 charities fund around £6 million of cancer research every year.ii but face an uncertain and precarious future as income has substantially fallen since lockdown started in March 2020. Collectively, their focus across the 20 for 20 charities is to make sure they can continue to support both patients and the NHS at this crucial time, given that more local lockdowns and a second wave of coronavirus are likely.  

The disruption from the pandemic to cancer services, ranging from delays in scans to referrals to cancer services, has been widely publicised in the media, with a backlog in care expected to cost as many as 30,000 lives across the UK.2 To add to this, more than 1,500 clinical trials looking into cancer, heart disease and many other serious illnesses have been halted altogether in the UK.3 Although the number of people going to their GP with symptoms of cancer and being urgently referred to a specialist has been rising again as lockdown has eased, it remains almost 20% lower than at the same time last year.4 

Jane Lyons, Chief Executive of Cancer52, a charity that represents nearly 100 rare and less common patient support groups and charities in the UK, said: ‘Having a rare or less common cancer already presents a huge range of challenges, from getting diagnosed early to making sure patients get the right treatment. For countless patients and their families, the charities taking part in 20 for 20 are a lifeline of support, information, campaigning and are funders of research specifically looking into these cancers.  

‘We risk losing this in the long-term if these charities have to further cut what they can do, or worse still, shut. 20 for 20 is a powerful statement about a unique collaboration to bring in some much-needed income that has been lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a strong collective voice, we believe we can achieve more together than apart.’

Richard Davidson, Chief Executive of Sarcoma UK, said: ‘There is a time bomb for cancer on the horizon and we need to make sure these charities, many of whom are the sole voice for cancer patients whose cancers rarely get the spotlight they need, are there for patients, carers and the NHS when that happens. Arguably, these cancer charities are needed now more than ever. 20 for 20 is a bold attempt to take control of the situation, not as competitors but as partners to make sure we can continue to be there for patients now and crucially, in the future.’ 

With a £10 billion charity funding gap created by Covid-19 and almost six in 10 UK charities intending on cutting back services, this is a challenging time for the third sector.5 20 for 20 comes after a spring and summer that has seen some of the biggest events including the Virgin London Marathon, the Prudential RideLondon and the Great North Run either postponed, cancelled or put on virtually. Whereas the warmer months of the year would traditionally bring in income through community fundraising, the rate of lockdown easing, public confidence and sudden lockdowns in cities like Leicester and Aberdeen present new challenges to the community fundraising model.     

20 for 20 is open to everyone, visit www.20for20.org.uk to register and choose your chosen charity to support. 

 20 for 20 is proudly supported by global biopharmaceutical company Takeda as its headline sponsor, alongside campaign partner Novartis.  

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