Tamworth Can Assist fears it could fold within months

CRISIS: Tamworth Can Assist member Robyn Fitzgerald said the group has issued more than $2500 worth of help this months alone. Photo: Jacob McArthur
CRISIS: Tamworth Can Assist member Robyn Fitzgerald said the group has issued more than $2500 worth of help this months alone. Photo: Jacob McArthur

A CHARITY giving financial assistance to Tamworth cancer patients says it has hit crisis point and could soon fold.

Tamworth Can Assist issued an emergency call for volunteers in July last year, however the group has, once again, plunged into a perilous state with just eight volunteers on the books.

The Tamworth group’s newest, and youngest, member, Jill Grey, said it would be “really devastating” for the community if the charity folded.

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She said it was a “no-brainer” to get involved with Can Assist after losing her father to cancer.

Ms Grey said there was “so many charities where you don’t know where the money is going” but Can Assist’s funds stay entirely local.

“We help with vouchers if people need money for fuel or if there’s no food in the fridge because someone’s money gone to the chemist, we’ve got food vouchers,” she said.

“We help with travel and accommodation.”

Ms Grey said a crowded charity market meant the group had probably been pushed to the back of people’s minds.

She said people often thought the group was linked to the Cancer Council, which isn’t the case.

The group’s next meeting is May 7 at 5.30pm at the Longyard Hotel.

Robyn Fitzgerald has been volunteering for Can Assist for eight years.

She described herself as “one of the lucky ones” having survived a cancer diagnosis in 1980.

Ms Fitzgerald said Tamworth Can Assist has already issued more than $2500 worth of support in this month alone.

She said it has helped more than 70 people in the last four years with close to $60,000 worth of assistance.

The charity received a very timely donation with the recent Pedal the Peel fundraising ride pledging $10,000 to the local branch.

RIDING FOR FUNDS: Can Assist member and Brett White and Pedal the Peel chairman Terry Robinson. Photo: Peter Hardin 040418PHA004

RIDING FOR FUNDS: Can Assist member and Brett White and Pedal the Peel chairman Terry Robinson. Photo: Peter Hardin 040418PHA004

Pedal the Peel chairman Terry Robinson said the fact funds would stay local was a key factor behind the donation.

“It’s local, it’s just for people in the North West region,” Mr Robinson said.

“The organisation doesn’t get a lot of publicity or financial backing.

He said it would leave a huge gap in the community if Can Assist folded.

“It would leave a lot in the cold, with people who might not be able to afford trips, accommodation or treatment ” he said.

Tamworth Regional Council volunteer referral coordinator Veronica Filby said there was still a great interest in the community for volunteering, but it was mostly from the retired demographic.

Mrs Filby said attracting younger helpers would be a focus when National Volunteering Week rolled around next month.

She said focusing on other benefits, outside obviously helping others, was key to getting a wider range of people interested.

“It’ll be about creating awareness around other benefits,” she said.

“For a young person it can be great for improving personal skills and can help with later careers.”

She moved to quash the misconception about how much time was enveloped by volunteering.

“A lot of people think they don’t have time to do it,” she said.

“One-to-three hours a week from one person can be a huge benefit to some of these organisations.

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