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Like so many other charities, Covid-19 had a devastating impact on The Nightingale.

As many of our support services are provided face-to-face, closing the centre in March unfortunately meant stopping many of our courses and classes.

We still needed to support our clients, so over the following months we managed to shift some of our services online with one-to-one counselling conducted over the phone and our mindfulness courses and fitsteps classes taking place via Zoom.

We knew that many of our services couldn’t be done virtually (massage would be particularly difficult) and in order to provide the full scope of support we offer we would need to reopen the centre in some capacity. But updating our function room, two therapy rooms and two counselling rooms, along with our reception to allow for safe social distancing was going to be difficult (and expensive).

Therefore we were delighted when we received a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund to allow us to deliver our services in a new way, update the centre and eventually open it back up to our clients. Head of Services, Fiona Connell, was ecstatic   to receive this incredible funding, saying “What a year it’s been! I never thought that the centre would still be closed going into the new year, but I’m happy that throughout lockdown we managed to keep in contact with our clients and provide some of our services.

“I was really concerned that we wouldn’t be able to reopen the centre, due to the cost of new protective installations and equipment. Receiving this grant from The National Lottery has given us a chance to breathe for a few months and ensure that we can provide virtual support and reopen safely.”

Whilst we are desperate to reopen our doors as quickly as possible we can only do so once we feel confident all staff, volunteers and clients will be safe while visiting the centre. In order to create a safe space, we’re using this funding to install hand gel installations at every point of contact, put up screens in communal areas and change all furniture to ensure easy and effective sanitisation.

Life has changed dramatically in the last six months and we are aware that this has been a difficult time for everyone, with many of our clients having to self-isolate or wait for their treatment to restart/begin. With this in mind, we have reassessed the needs of the nearly 400 clients we were seeing before lockdown, to determine their level of anxiety and understand exactly how Covid-19 has impacted their lives and mental health. Going forward, we can therefore adapt the services we provide to the changing needs of our clients in a new Covid-19 world.

This funding will certainly help us to pick up the pieces and return to some form of normality. We really are missing seeing everyone in person as the centre just isn’t the same. We can’t wait to welcome everyone back and thanks to The National Lottery Community Fund and the government we are hopeful this might be in the early part of 2021.

In the meantime, don’t forget we are developing remote services and are always at the end of the phone. Find out more about our services and how we can help you through your cancer journey here.

“It’s the camaraderie I miss the most. Of course, I enjoy the benefits of the treatments offered at The Nightingale, which are so helpful. But it’s really the people. It’s a little family of people who appreciate what you’ve been through and are going through. I can’t wait for the centre to be reopened to see Fiona, the team and my friends again and have that in-person support and friendship that The Nightingale is so good at.” – Becky Thorp