Young woman wearing face mask while walking in the streets of London

Open letter from cancer charities to the public

40 charities and organisations have written an open letter, urging the public to help keep vulnerable people safe as restrictions ease. 

19 July 2021

Tomorrow in England (Monday 19 July), we will see Covid restrictions lifted, with people will no longer required to wear face masks in crowded places or maintain social distance.

Many of people will be looking forward to tomorrow as the day they get their “freedoms back”. But for many people with cancer, tomorrow will be a day when freedoms are taken away. This is because their cancer, or their treatment for cancer, means the vaccine, even after two doses, is less likely to protect them from serious illness from Covid than it is for the general public.

Over the last few months, many people with cancer have been starting to get back to normal, meeting up with their friends outdoors or sitting outside at cafes and restaurants.

They have felt able to do this because the people around them have been wearing masks and keeping their distance. The more people exercise their freedom to stop wearing masks and stop social distancing, the more people with cancer will feel they have to stop their normal activities, and will feel more worried when they have to do things like use public transport.

We had hoped the Government would continue to insist people carry on wearing masks and social distancing in crowded places. But given the Government has decided not to do this, we are asking every person in England, knowing you already do so much for people with cancer through the financial support you give us, to do three things to help them further over the next few weeks:

  • Keep wearing masks in crowded places. There is good evidence they stop the spread, and for all you know, that person sitting a few seats down from you on the bus might be on their way to their chemotherapy appointment.
  • Keep your distance from people you don’t know. There is no way of knowing if someone has cancer and so might be vulnerable to the virus, so it’s best to assume everyone you come into contact with might be.
  • Get vaccinated if you haven’t done so already. Particularly for people with cancer who have a compromised immune system, the more people who are vaccinated, the safer they will be.

These three things are especially important in England, where the restrictions are being lifted first. But they are also things that will help people with cancer in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, too.

Just one person doing these three things could make a real difference to someone with cancer. And the more of us who do them, the more we will help keep people with cancer safe, and send them a message of solidarity during the difficult weeks ahead.

  • Michelle Mitchell, CEO, Cancer Research UK
  • Delyth Morgan, CEO, Breast Cancer Now
  • Gemma Peters, CEO, Blood Cancer UK
  • Lynda Thomas, CEO, Macmillan Cancer Support
  • Fiona Hazell, CEO, Leukaemia UK
  • Diana Jupp, CEO, Pancreatic Cancer UK
  • Michelle Vickers, CEO, Head and Neck Cancer Foundation
  • Victoria Clare, CEO, Ovacome
  • Zack Pemberton-Whiteley, CEO, Leukaemia Care
  • Laura Kerby, CEO, Myeloma UK
  • Pamela Healy OBE, CEO, British Liver Trust
  • Ropinder Gill, CEO, Lymphoma Action
  • Nina Barough CBE, CEO, Walk The Walk
  • Annwen Jones OBE, CEO, Target Ovarian Cancer
  • Liz Darlison, CEO, Mesothelioma UK
  • Rose Woodward, CEO, Kidney Cancer Support Network
  • Samantha Dixon, CEO, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust
  • Tony Heddon, Chairman, Neuroblastoma UK
  • Robin Pritchard & Paula Hargadon, Co-Directors, Cancer Care Map
  • Marc Auckland, Chair, CLL Support
  • Sue Farrington Smith, CEO, Brain Tumour Research
  • Athena Lamnisos, CEO, The Eve Appeal
  • Sarahjane Robertson, CEO, Look Good Feel Better
  • Jeannie Rigby, Director, Action Bladder Cancer UK
  • Jane Lyons, CEO, Cancer52
  • Richard Davidson, CEO, Sarcoma UK
  • Paula Chadwick, CEO, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
  • Tina Seymour, CEO, Hope for Tomorrow
  • Gillian Nuttall, CEO, Melanoma UK
  • Ken Mastris, Chairman, Tackle Prostate Cancer
  • Anna Webb, Manager, Myrovlytis Trust
  • Cary Wakefield, CEO, Ovarian Cancer Action
  • Alastair Richards, CEO, North West Cancer Research
  • Nigel Shattock, Director of Comms, World Cancer Research Fund
  • Kathryn Scott, CEO, Yorkshire Cancer Research
  • Dr David Jenkinson, CEO, The Brain Tumour Charity
  • Nick Turkentine, CEO, Kidney Cancer UK
  • Natalie Heskell, CEO CoppaFeel!
  • Henny Braund, CEO, Anthony Nolan
  • Genevieve Edwards, CEO, Bowel Cancer UK