Into the future with new chief executive
Richard Spratt said that despite the devastating effects of covid-19, Cancer Focus NI was determined, with its limited resources, to continue supporting as many local cancer patients and their families as possible.
“Covid-19 has impacted cancer patients hugely. We do not underestimate the challenges that have exacerbated an already distressing situation and we are deeply concerned about late diagnosis, paused treatment and the heightened stress and anxiety that Covid-19 has brought. We are committed to do what we can to give a vital lifeline to people at this difficult time,” he said.
Mr Spratt, who is from Comber, also urged the public to continue its generous support for the charity. Since the epidemic took hold in March, Cancer Focus NI has faced an 80% drop in income as fundraising events have had to be cancelled or postponed and staff furloughed.
“Our capacity and ability to support our work via fundraising has been severely adversely affected. Therefore we are appealing to people to get involved with our fundraising events and activities now more than ever,” he said.
Mr Spratt, who was CEO of international development charity Fields of Life for the last nine years and previously a manager in corporate and business banking with Bank of Ireland, said: “This is an unprecedented time for all of us and in my view every organisation needs to think of itself as a ‘start up’ to find its place in the new normal.”
Paying tribute to his predecessor Roisin Foster, who retired recently, he said: “I am hugely impressed by the history and legacy of Cancer Focus NI which has been a pioneering voice in cancer for over 50 years.
“I look forward to building on the firm foundations that Roisin and the staff team have laid and I believe the next number of years will be an exciting time in the organisation’s evolution. I am personally motivated along with the staff to do all we can to tackle cancer and support those living with it.”
Mr Spratt continued: “We face challenges in the delivery of our services both in the important work of reducing the incidence of cancer in Northern Ireland and supporting local people affected by and living with cancer. We are endeavouring to think creatively and differently about what we do and how we operate going forward.
“Despite the formidable times that we all face, we are choosing to deal with the situation as an opportunity. In a year’s time our organisation, like others, might look different but what won’t change is our resolve and commitment to serve those who need us now more than ever.”