Cancer charity issues plea for support in London as its biggest fundraising event faces a staggering drop in income


Latest figures from Macmillan Cancer Support show that the number of Londoners planning to hold a Macmillan Coffee Morning has fallen by a staggering 76% this year, leading to worries that there will be an equivalent fall in money raised.

Last year, Londoners signed-up for more than 16,000 Macmillan Coffee Morning events, to fund the cancer charity’s vital services such as Macmillan nurses and patient grants.

Macmillan says it’s never needed the support of people in the capital more, as it is expected to experience a huge drop in income from its flagship fundraising event.

The picture is similar across the UK, with early figures showing sign-ups are down by around two-thirds (68%)[i]. The £27.5m raised in 2019 is expected to fall to under £8m this year – the lowest amount Coffee Morning will have raised in 11 years[ii].

The charity fears its supporters don’t realise the event is still going ahead – albeit in a new virtual or socially distanced format – and is urging people to find out about the new ways to take part.

Emma Stokes-Heley, a Macmillan Senior Fundraising Manager for London, said:

“There has never been a more terrifying time in recent history to receive a cancer diagnosis with disruption and delays to treatment and fears of becoming infected with Coronavirus.

“Worryingly the increased need for support comes at a time when our fundraised income has dropped significantly, and our flagship Coffee Morning event looks like it will bring in only a fraction of what we’d hope for.

“We’ve heard some of our supporters didn’t realise they could take part this year. While the traditional Coffee Morning can’t go ahead, there are still lots of ways to take part and raise money to fund services that are needed more now than ever before.”

Emma Tingley, Macmillan’s Strategic Partnership Manager for London, added:

“It’s quite a stark picture. At a time when Londoners with cancer need our support more than ever, Macmillan’s famous Coffee Morning is facing a £20m income drop this year.

“This shortfall could risk more than 80,000 cancer patients, across the UK, missing out on support from a Macmillan nurse next year. And in London this could mean we are unable to fund vital cancer care and support services, such as Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialists or Macmillan Cancer Support Workers. Overall, there are about 1,500 Macmillan professionals in London today. Over the last three years alone, we funded 188 Macmillan nurses and other professionals in the capital, but we can only continue this crucial work with the public’s backing.

“People with cancer have been hit hard by the pandemic – and they continue to be adversely impacted. Macmillan’s support services are currently preparing for an influx of demand this autumn due to the ongoing diagnosis and treatment backlog, routine winter pressures and the ending of the furlough scheme.

“Macmillan has never needed the public’s help more. That’s why this year we’re encouraging all Londoners to do whatever it takes to get involved in Coffee Morning, whether that be hosting a socially distanced Coffee Morning, setting up a virtual event or by taking on a new challenge altogether, such as a sponsored run.”

Macmillan is encouraging people to take part however suits them, from having a socially distanced Coffee Morning safely from their doorstep to setting up a virtual Coffee Morning online.

Those who prefer to take part in more active fundraising events can also sign up for the first ever Coffee Morning Challenge, tackling a run, walk or cycle to raise cash.

Meanwhile social media lovers are being urging people to take a selfie raising a mug for people living with cancer, while making a donation.

Mum-of-three, Sharon-Ann Gayle (56) from Croydon, who was diagnosed with a rare myeloma in 2015, urged Londoners to get involved in Coffee Morning this year:

“I don’t know what I would have done without my Macmillan nurse, Jo. She was there with me in the room when I finally found out I had a rare myeloma cancer. Jo was instrumental in helping me at that terrible time. I then spent six weeks in hospital and was laid off from work. Macmillan helped me throughout this time – particularly when I lost my job, as they advised me about my finances and helped me complete all the forms. The Psychological Support Service at St George’s, which is funded by Macmillan, also made a huge difference.

“That’s why I’m so pleased to be taking part in a Coffee Morning this month, in the park, after me and my friends from the Macmillan Move More group have enjoyed our specialist exercise session. It just shows you can be creative where you have a Macmillan Coffee Morning this year!

“I’ll be inviting my friends and family to join us. And as it’s in the park, we can all keep a safe distance. I want to give something back as I could not have coped without Macmillan’s help.”