Spotlight on Julie Russell, General Manager at York Against Cancer

by Marianne Long
Published: Last Updated on

York Against Cancer is a small, independent charity that works to make a difference to the lives of local people affected by cancer. We spoke to Julie Russell about her background, proudest moment and the services the charity provides.

Julie Russell

Q What’s your background?

I started work as an office junior in 1977 and have worked in office-based roles since. I worked within the rail industry for 21 years, many of them as a P.A. I’ve also worked at a G.P practice and in an Estate Agents.

Q When did you get involved with York Against Cancer, where are you based and what does your role entail?

I started work with York Against Cancer in 2005 and my original role was as an office administrator. I was delighted in 2007 when I applied for the role of General Manager and was lucky enough to get it! The charity has recently relocated to the York Stadium, where we have a gift and card shop and our offices. My role is strategic; I look for opportunities to improve cancer services in our local community and I am responsible for the management and governance of the charity. I am lucky to work with a great team and together we really do make a difference for cancer patients and their families.

Q What is the history of York Against Cancer?

York Against Cancer was started back in 1987 when two surgeons at York Hospital and a research scientist at the University of York decided that cancer services in York could be improved. We fund three key areas; cancer care, research, and education, and over the last 35 years, the charity has helped literally thousands of cancer patients through a difficult time. York Against Cancer cannot provide cancer services without the kind and generous support of local people.

Q What services and support does York Against Cancer provide for the York area?

We provide minibus transport for York area patients who need to get to St James hospital, Leeds for radiotherapy. The feedback from this service is very positive:

The drivers were so nice – they picked me up at the door and dropped me back at home after treatment. They made it a pleasure – absolutely excellent!

I can’t fault it and I was so grateful – Thank you so much!

We also provide respite breaks for cancer patients and their families at our house at Filey. They are offered either a three-night weekend or four-night weekday break and they can take along their family or friends as the house has four double bedrooms. It is sometimes difficult for patients to book holidays, to fit in with hospital appointments and treatment, but we can plan a break around these which means getting away is possible.

Q How do people get in touch if they need help and support?

They can call our office and speak to one of our friendly team on 01904 764466 or email office@yorkagainstcancer.org.uk We are open Monday to Friday from 09.00 to 16.30 and will get back to you asap.

Q How many people rely on the service and support given by the Charity?

It is hard to say how many people we support but it will be thousands per year.

Q Does the Charity receive grants or funding? If not, how do you raise money to run the Charity and how can the general public get involved to support the work the charity does? Do you need volunteers?

York Against Cancer does not receive any government funding and every penny we raise is through fundraising, donations, and legacies.

We have our regular fundraising events, an example is our golf day at York Golf Club, Thursday 14th July 2022, and events organised by others on our behalf such as an afternoon tea with a hat fashion show at The Pavilion Hotel on Saturday 23rd April 2022. Every penny does count, so if anyone wants to fundraise for us then please do get in touch with Lauren by emailing
lauren.hudson@yorkagainstcancer.org.uk or calling 01904 764466.

We are looking for volunteers to help us in our shops at the York Stadium and York hospital or to help with fundraising events. If you are interested, call Nicola on 01904 764466 or email her at nicola.doherty@yorkagainstcancer.org.uk

Q What difference has moving to the LNER Stadium last May made?

Relocating to the Stadium has made a big difference to us; we are now at a venue that attracts different audiences, football supporters, gym-goers and shoppers. It was always our intention to widen our reach to different audiences and the move has enabled us to do this. We know that cancer does not just affect one demographic, so it is important that we are always looking for new ways to support different demographics and that we react to the needs of cancer patients.

Q How has the Charity survived the pandemic and what were the main challenges?

This was initially difficult, but it was essential that we made changes to our work to keep everyone safe and protect the NHS and also, for us to continue to support cancer patients through their difficult times. We did have to stop some services and adapt others for us to meet the government guidelines.

Q What’s your proudest moment?

My proudest moment with York Against Cancer is when we launched our Mobile Chemotherapy Unit onto the roads of North and East Yorkshire. After talking to the York and Scarborough NHS hospital trust it was identified we would fund a Mobile Chemotherapy Unit which would take the Chemotherapy to patients who lived out in outlying towns of Yorkshire instead of them travelling into York hospital. This was a significant project and was given a £1m budget by the charity’s trustees and it was only made possible by one generous beneficiary. It was a proud day for everyone at York Against Cancer when this project came to fruition.

Q Do you have any events planned for 2022? What does the future hold for York Against Cancer?

We have events already planned and they include:

Afternoon tea at The Pavilion Hotel with a Get Ahead hats Fashion show – Saturday 23rd April – tickets will be available from York Against Cancer soon. Details will be on our website soon.

We are looking for businesses or groups to take part in the York Dragon Boat Race on Sunday 10th July. If you would like to take part, please contact us by calling 01904 764466 and speak to Lauren or email her on lauren.hudson@yorkagainstcancer.org.uk.

The York Against Cancer Golf Day is being held at York Golf Club on Thursday 14th July, for more information please contact us by calling 01904 764466 and speak to Lauren or email her on lauren.hudson@yorkagainstcancer.org.uk.

York Rocks Against Cancer is being held on Saturday 23rd July at the Barbican York. The event brings together local musicians and celebrities who volunteer their time and energy to raise vital funds for York Against Cancer. Groups include the Skylights and a band from the cast of ‘Emmerdale’. It really is going to be a party atmosphere. Don’t miss out! Tickets are available from the Barbican box office.

Are you a runner and want a challenge? Have you missed taking part in events? Why not tackle the Jane Tomlinson Run For All ASDA Foundation York 10K on the 1st August? We have FREE places to give away to people who can raise £100 or more in sponsorship for us. If you’re interested, please contact us on 01904 764466 and speak to Lauren or email her at
lauren.hudson@yorkagainstcancer.org.uk

With the support of local people, we will continue with our care, research, and education projects. If anyone needs our help, support or care, we are here for you. Get in touch because – together we really can make a difference!

Marianne Long
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