Coronavirus Update

COVID-19 and the impact on Oracle Cancer Trust

We are delighted to share this update about Oracle Cancer Trust at this time of uncertainty - not only for us but for all our colleagues in the medical and research world as well as other charities.

On behalf of the Chairman, Trustees and the small team at Oracle Cancer Trust we hope that you are all keeping well during these very worrying times.  We particularly extend our thoughts and best wishes to those who are undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment. We’ve put together a short Q&A to hopefully fill you in on where you can get support at the moment and how the COVID-19 lockdown is affecting us.

Where can head and neck cancer patients get additional advice and support?
If you have recently finished treatment for head and neck cancer and would like some friendly support during this time, our partners voluntary support group network Heads2Gether have established regional WhatsApp groups and will be shortly announcing a series of online support groups. As well as the groups there is also a 24-hour support line that can be contacted on Freephone 0800 0234 550.  If you’d like to know more about joining a regional support group please contact Ray Derkacz.

How much Oracle funded research is still underway?
Oracle is currently funding 22 research projects at a cost of £2.4m at leading research institutions throughout the UK.

Some of our medically qualified researchers have returned to support the frontline NHS effort, and we are proud that some laboratories are being repurposed to offer not only COVID testing but also using their equipment to manufacture necessities for healthcare teams.

Many of these projects have had suspended, especially what is referred to as “wet” laboratory research. The majority of our funded researchers have been able to work remotely, completing their reports and carrying out other tasks until they can safely return to their laboratories. We are thrilled that they have been so resilient and are adapting and continuing their important work.

What impact has the crisis has on Oracle’s financial position?
As some of you may have read, charities have been hit particularly hard by the current COVID-19 crisis.  Small organisations particularly like Oracle rely on our many generous and dedicated supporters to raise funds in the Spring; it’s such a busy time for everyone running marathons, organising parties, charity dinners and much more. We are especially lucky that so many of you do this for us, and recognise and appreciate every single one of you. Without you pioneering research work just wouldn’t be possible.

But these are extraordinary circumstances and inevitably we and so many of our supporters have had to cancel or postpone fundraising plans until later this year or 2021.  And sadly, at the moment charities in our field are not eligible for the funding made available by the Government so we are facing a significant shortfall of close to £200,000 for our current financial year

What does this mean for our research programme?

We are hoping that the events Oracle had been planning will take place in the Autumn, but as you can imagine this will have a huge impact on how much funding we can draw on both for the rest of 2020 and into 2021. As a result, Trustees have had to take the decision to delay starting some of the research planned for 2020 and currently plan to defer the next call for new research projects until March 2021. Once the lockdown restrictions are lifted we can assess the impact and revisit these decisions as it pains us to have to do this.

We are not alone though, and the disruption is being felt throughout the entire research community. The Association of Medical Research Funders – AMRC – have been monitoring the wider impact of how the COVID-19 crisis will affect medical research charities.  Initial feedback suggests up to 70% of charities will be unable to fund future medical research due to the impact on fundraising income.

How is Oracle adapting?
Inevitably, we have had to look at ways to reduce our overheads despite operating a much smaller research portfolio. As a small team we have done as much as we can, and furloughed our one employed staff member, Natalie, and both our self-employed key team members Sarah, Teresa and Sally are working remotely on a significantly reduced timetable. We are keeping the outgoings to an absolute minimum however our core costs such as governance, accounting, insurance and premises cannot be reduced.  In normal times, it costs approximately £12,000 per month beyond our research grants to keep our lean little charity running. Following a cost savings review we have been able to reduce this back to well under £9,000.

Finally, the Oracle team of Sarah, Teresa and Sally would be delighted to hear from any supporters – please don’t hesitate to drop us a line for a chat or virtual coffee and catch up.  You can email the team or call us on 020 3892 8991 where our answering service can forward a message to any one of us straightaway.

With our very best wishes to all our friends and supporters.

The team at Oracle Cancer Trust



AMRC membership - a hallmark of quality and credibility

Oracle Cancer Trust is starting off 2019 on a positive note as new members of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), the UK’s national membership organisation for health and medical research charities.

We are now one of over 140 other member charities who fund research across the full spectrum of human health including Breast Cancer Now, Diabetes UK, Alzheimer’s Research UK and Cancer Research UK just to name a few. These charities collectively spent £1.6bn on medical and health research in the UK in 2017, accounting for 47% of all publicly-funded medical research in the UK.

AMRC brings together and supports health and medical charities to produce high-quality research that improves lives by influencing policy and research and highlighting the sector’s contribution to patient and public health.

Membership is recognised as an indicator of quality research funding by universities, government and funding bodies. This is due to the fact that members of AMRC meet a set of exacting standards including having a published research strategy, Conflicts of Interest Policy for research funding and a robust peer review process.

As well as being a hallmark of quality and credibility, as part of a strong collective voice for medical research charities in the UK, other benefits of AMRC membership include:

  • Support to members to meet their charitable objectives
  • Influence the regulatory, policy and research environments
  • Connect members to encourage collaboration and to share learning
  • Access to finances and resources including the Charity Research Support Fund (CRSF) and AcoRD

Therefore Oracle Cancer Trust is very excited to become a member and looking forward to being a part of such an important organisation.