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New fundraiser: 20for20

Rare and less common cancer charities come together to tackle pandemic’s impact through inspirational new fundraiser, 20for20.

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] The 20 for 20 charities, who support over 87,000[2] patients diagnosed every year with rare and less common cancers in the UK, are also the drivers of key cancer research. So far, the charities have funded around £6 million of research[3] but now face an uncertain and precarious future following a substantial fall in income since lockdown started in March 2020. Collectively, their focus is continue to support both patients and the NHS at this crucial time, given that more local lockdowns and a second wave of coronavirus are possible.

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, but the number of people going to their GP with symptoms of cancer and being urgently referred to a specialist is rising again as lockdown eases though it remains almost 20% lower than at the same time last year.[4]

Jane Lyons, CEO of Cancer52, a charity that represents nearly 100 rare and less common cancer 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 fund research looking specifically 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 comes at a crucial time – all the charities need the funding to support patients in the long-term, but the campaign will also raise awareness of these cancers and encourage people to come forward if they do have worrying symptoms.’

Richard Davidson, Chief Executive of Sarcoma UK, said: ‘These cancer charities are needed now more than ever. Many of them are the sole voice for patients whose cancers rarely get the spotlight they need. They must be able to continue to support not just patients, but their carers and the NHS as well. 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 though community fundraising, local lockdowns, new restrictions and an uncertain economic and employment landscape have affected public confidence in doing these activities.

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.


[1] Cancer Research UK, Cancer Statistics for the UK, https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics-for-the-uk

[2] Incidence numbers collated from CRUK data and data from individual charities.

[3] Sum of expenditure stated in each charity’s latest available annual accounts.

[4] BBC News Online, ‘NHS figures reveal long waits for routine ops in England’, 13 August 2020 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-53765260

[5] Institute of Fundraising, ‘Collapse in Charity Provision Looms at moment of Greatest Need’, 19 August 2020 https://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/news/collapse-in-charity-provision-looms-at-moment-of-greatest-need/

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