RESIDENTS are being urged to shop to save lives, as the Cancer Research UK charity shop re-opens after a devastating closure.

Three months on, staff and volunteers at the store on Westfield Street are now getting back to business to tackle a shortfall in funding, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strict measures are being followed to ensure people in the town can shop, volunteer and donate goods safely.

These include social distancing, hand sanitiser stations, cough guards at till points, face coverings and gloves for shop staff and volunteers, additional cleaning and a 72-hour quarantine period for donated items.

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Answering that rallying cry is cancer scientist Claire Armstrong from Eccleston, who works as a Cancer Research UK-funded scientist at the University of Liverpool. She is a part of a team developing a way to create drug-carrying particles to improve the way chemotherapy drugs are carried around the body.

The 26-year-old, who lost her dad to a type of lung cancer in 2016, is determined to help find more treatments and kinder treatments so that fewer families have to go through the same experience.

She said: “As a cancer scientist it was terrible to see the charity shops close, because I understand all too clearly what a lack of funding could mean for the development of new, lifesaving treatments.

“I hope people in St Helens will be inspired by the charity’s determination to carry on beating cancer and show their support at their local shop – they really could save lives.”

Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, Cancer Research UK currently funds around 50 per cent of all cancer research in the UK, including Claire and her team.

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However, as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, it expects to see its fundraising income decline by up to 30 per cent in the financial year ahead – putting this research at risk.

Anna Taylor, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West, said: “To save lives tomorrow, we need the public’s support today - so we want people to know we’re making every effort to create a safe shopping experience.

“COVID-19 has hit us hard and after three long months we’re delighted to be able to welcome new and familiar faces back through our doors again, as well as a host of new donations.

“Our shops are full of new and pre-loved items, fashion one-offs and homeware treasures – particularly after lockdown clear-outs. As well as being sold at bargain prices, every sale helps to fund our work. But right now, clinical trials are being postponed and we’re having to delay vital research.

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“That’s why we’re asking our St Helens customers to do what they can. Whether they shop, donate goods or volunteer their time – all are essential to help us keep making breakthroughs for people with cancer.

“COVID-19 has slowed us down. But we will never stop. With around 41,000 people diagnosed with cancer every year in the North West of England*, we are absolutely determined to continue creating better cancer treatments for the future.

“Every step our scientists take towards beating cancer relies on every pound raised. So, with the help of shoppers in St Helens we believe that together we will still beat cancer.”

Cancer Research UK was able to spend over £30 million in the North West of England last year on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.

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