Breast Cancer Care app receives National Lottery funding
Funding totalling £655k from the Big Lottery Fund to help charity further develop unique end-of-treatment support app
Leading UK charity Breast Cancer Care has today received £655k of National Lottery funding from the Big Lottery Fund to further develop its unique end-of-treatment support app and meet the needs of 36,000 users by 2020.
The Breast Cancer Care App (BECCA), launched May 2017, is the first of its kind to help women move forward after hospital treatment ends. This new grant will allow the charity to transform the app from a bitesize tips resource into a tool which learns from its users’ interactions and will offer trustworthy information tailored to their needs.
The grant will also fund expansion of the app’s content, allowing it to pool diverse, fresh and current information on breast cancer, including on wellbeing, diet and managing side effects of treatment, all in one place. Its smart technology will do all the work of searching the internet for women trying to adapt to life after breast cancer and provide them with articles on anything from exercise and diet to mindfulness and well-being.
BECCA currently has over 7,500 users and faces growing demand.
Role of digital tech
David Crosby, Director of Services and Engagement at Breast Cancer Care, commented: “We’re incredibly grateful to have received this grant as it will allow us to continue revolutionising the way Breast Cancer Care supports people at the end of treatment, which we know is often the hardest part. Debilitating long-term side effects, anxieties about the cancer returning and damaged body confidence are just some of the issues people are left with as they walk out of the hospital doors.
“We’re delighted the Big Lottery Fund has recognised the important role digital technology can play in offering vital support efficiently and effectively. Around 691,000 people are alive in the UK after a diagnosis of breast cancer, and the numbers are only set to rise. So, it’s crucial we do more to reach as many of those who need support as possible, and make sure they know they’re not alone.”
Teaching Assistant and mum-of-two Penny Sherrott, 49 from Kent, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2014. She has been using BECCA since May 2017. She said: “Although I finished active breast cancer treatment over three years ago, last year I reached breaking point. I was exhausted from fatigue, dealing with the side effects of tamoxifen, and struggling with overwhelming anxiety about the cancer returning.
“Without BECCA, I don’t think I would have got through the year. It reminds me that I’m not alone and that it’s OK to be worried sometimes. It’s like a friend. Plus, I can use it whenever and wherever I need. I’m so excited BECCA is growing and becoming smarter. I can’t wait to see fresh new content chosen just for me.”
Dan Sutch, Co-founder and Director of CAST, whose digital accelerator programme, Fuse, fostered the development of the BECCA prototype, says:
“It’s brilliant to see BECCA already making such a positive difference to thousands of women recovering from breast cancer and I’m thrilled that this funding will help scale that use and benefit. It’s a huge credit to the team’s user-led, test-driven approach that they’ve created such a well-used and important service, and I’m pleased that it demonstrates how Fuse can help charities create effective digital services.
“Charities like Breast Cancer Care are brilliantly placed to create tech for good products and services because they can harness the organisational expertise, as well as the reach, reputation and networks that come with being an established non-profit organisation. I hope this inspires others in the sector to think creatively about how they can use digital technology and design methodologies to address the needs of their service users.”
The Big Lottery Fund is the largest distributor of National Lottery money, giving out 40% of the money raised by players for good causes. Last year it awarded almost £713m and supported almost 14,000 projects across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes.