Cancer Support Yorkshire’s journey began with Dr Clifford Dobson, a senior research fellow at Bradford University studying the emotional effects of cancer. He recognised the need for a service to support patients and their families and set about recruiting a committee of influential people to help make this happen. They included: The Bishop of Bradford, Robert Williamson, Former Lord Mayors, Mohammed Ajeeb, William Nunn, and Doris Birdsall, Sir James Hill, Baroness Lockwood, Doris Birdsall OBE, and Bradford Council’s former Chief Executive, Gordon Moore.
The necessary funding was acquired and a team of 30 volunteers were given intensive training prior to Cancer Support opening its doors on 18th January 1988. This was in the Sovereign Health Care premises, Vicar Lane, Little Germany, Bradford.
Dr Dobson was the Director until 1990 when he had to leave due to ill health. Sandra Hunton, pictured, took over the role and began developing the charity’s free services to included dedicated welfare rights advice. Cecile Levine, who headed this service wrote the booklet: ‘What Can I Claim?’ which soon became a must have for health professionals working with cancer patients all over the country.
The Welfare Rights service, today, acquires millions of pounds every year, in entitled benefits, back dated benefits and grants, on behalf of clients.
In 1994 the Vicar Lane Landlords, were looking for new premises and so began the search to relocate Bradford Cancer Support. The move to rented premises in Daisy Bank, Duckworth Lane in April 1995 proved to be an excellent choice. The proximity to Bradford Royal Infirmary’s oncology wards and developing relationships with health professionals created a huge increase in demand for services.
The charity was going from strength to strength, patients were being referred at the point of diagnosis, from areas district wide. Services were developing to meet the needs of patients, carers, and their families. By 2004 we had outgrown Daisy Bank and in 2006 the welfare rights team were moved off site to create space for more complementary therapy and counselling rooms. However, not being able to provide all services under one roof was a huge issue for the charity and a search to relocate to larger premises began.
The ‘Daisy Appeal’ to build a permanent home for the charity was launched in 2006. The £1.4 million target to purchase land and to build was launched with a £100,000 legacy and by September 2008 we had begun the next step of the journey in our new home at Daisy House Farm, Smith Lane, Bradford, and with the new name: Cancer Support Bradford & Airedale.
Once again, district-wide demand for services increased which led to the opening of our Support Centre on Otley Street, Skipton, in September 2014. The Centre was initially opened two days per week but very soon this increased to 5 full days.
In April 2016, with the aim of exploring even more opportunities to benefit people and patients in the Yorkshire region, we changed our name to Cancer Support Yorkshire.
Fundraising activities have always been necessary to help fund our free services and in 2017 a Pre-Loved Shop was
opened on Belmont Bridge in Skipton.
The journey continued with everything going to plan until the pandemic forced our doors to close in March 2020. This did not stop us, we adapted quickly to working from home and delivering services to clients via telephone and online platforms such as Zoom. Our message is ‘We are still here for you’.
Our model of support is well established and proven to make a huge difference to the lives of local people affected by cancer. The dedication of staff, volunteers, and our supporters is key to the success of our 33-year journey and we think Dr Dobson would be proud of us all.
Were you part of our journey as a client, volunteer, supporter, fundraiser, or staff? Do you recognise anyone in the photographs below?
Contact Linda on 01274 776688 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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