As an organisation which makes such a huge difference to the lives of so many people on a daily basis, the Pink Ribbon Foundation has continued to grow in strength as advocates in the fight against breast cancer.
Ahead of tonight’s special catwalk event in Mayfair, in partnership with Steve Vyse & Gaia Wise, we speak to Lisa Allen from the Pink Ribbon Foundation to find out a little more about the incredible work as well as the importance of tonight’s event.
Lisa, a massive welcome to you. On behalf of countless people across the UK, I want to firstly begin by thanking you for the incredible difference that you and the team at the Pink Ribbon Foundation continue to make to the lives of others on a daily basis.
Tell us what these past 12 months have been like for you and the charity?
The last year has been extremely busy for the Pink Ribbon Foundation, raising awareness and money to support those affected by breast cancer. Many charities in the UK are still feeling the effects of Covid and also rising running costs and this makes it difficult for them to continue offering front line services which are so important for those in need of their help. 2022 saw a rise in the number of companies and individuals supporting our charity, which is brilliant, and means that we are able to continue to offer grants to these organisations which offer vital services.
What are some of the most rewarding aspects of the role that you play but also what are some of the challenges or realities when trying to address such a sensitive issue such as breast cancer?
As a charity we have very little infrastructure, we operate with just three volunteer Trustees (Jonathan, Angie and Liz) and myself and we all work from home, meaning that more of the money that we raise goes to the good causes that we support, rather than running costs. This means that I am responsible for many different aspects of the charity including, fundraising, corporate partnerships, events, celebrity engagement and social media. It is rewarding to know that we are making such a difference to the lives of those with breast cancer and for me, every day is different. We are living in difficult times and so as a charity we must always be proactive and creative. Ideas become campaigns and events and there is always a focus on what else we can do to drive awareness of the charity and raise essential funds to support services. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK with one woman diagnosed every 10 minutes, and this is at the heart of what we do. We remain sensitive of the cause and passionate about making improvements in treatment, care and early detection.
One of the most important things we can all do as a society is not just raising awareness but also doing our own part no matter how big or small to make a positive impact in the fight against breast cancer. What are your thoughts on that?
It is true, every little helps. We have many individuals, schools, clubs and work places coming together to make a difference and it is very easy to set up a fundraising page via our website (www.pinkribbonfoundation.org.uk). Whether it’s wearing pink, hosting a bake sale, running a marathon or jumping out of a plane, there are many different ways to support the work of the Pink Ribbon Foundation and we have lots of ideas and suggestions on our website. We also work with some wonderful companies, who sell their products with a donation to the Foundation, many of these are also listed on our website (SHOP) and the purchase of these further support our work.
Speaking of awareness, on 21st February 2023, you will be hosting a special catwalk event in collaboration with Mad Love London, actress Gaia Wise and long-time friend and stylist Steve Vyse, during London Fashion Week. How has the planning been going so far?
This is a wonderful event and one that we are all really looking forward to. The idea came to us quite recently and so it has been a bit of a whirlwind to make it happen in time for London Fashion Week but it is coming together nicely and we have some great people involved in the event, both behind the scenes and taking part in the show. Everyone has been very generous with their time and services and we are grateful for their support. It is going to be a great show and hopefully an annual event in the charity calendar!
The night of the show includes a whole range of designers coming together to create bespoke clothing for this special Pink Ribbon Foundation catwalk, which also includes one or two designs from DARKUS as well. So, when you have so many advocates who cheer you on how does that make you feel? Would priceless be an understatement?
Priceless would indeed be an understatement … we are always amazed and thankful for the generosity shown by individuals and companies to the Foundation. We rely very much on the kindness of people as we don’t have big budgets for events and over the years we have built up wonderful relationships with suppliers who donate their time and services free of charge. Working in this way means that we can keep costs down and raise more for the charities that we support. People are always very surprised by what we are able to do with so little and as a charity we definitely punch well above our weight. There is a deep amount of pride in being able to bring so many fabulous people together to do good.
We have to remember that events such as this are not just a cause for celebration, but also in the fight against breast cancer also highlighting the poignant and sometimes heart-breaking realities of some of the sad stories of those kind souls who have sadly passed on. When guests attend the show, what are a couple of the important key things you would like people to take away from the night? We’d like everyone to have a great time, but to take away the message that self-checking saves lives. Around 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK, and as most cases of the disease are identified when a change is spotted during a routine self-examination, it is distressing to read from a recent survey that almost half (47%) of women in the UK do not check their breasts regularly for potential signs of breast cancer.
According to the YouGov survey commissioned by Breast Cancer Now, one in 10 women have ‘never checked their breasts for new or unusual changes’. All women should be checking their breasts every four to six weeks and not be too concerned about what they should or should not be looking for - any new change needs to be seen by their GP. It is also important to stress that although breast cancer is often thought of as something that only affects women, men can also get it in rare cases and should also be looking out for any changes. (Details of what to look for can be found on our website).
The battle against cancer is a daily fight, so how can people continue to support the important work of the Pink Ribbon Foundation?
The good news is that breast cancer survival rates are improving and have in fact doubled in the past 40 years in the UK – much of this is due to awareness campaigns and money being raised for charities. We would urge people to go to our website and make an online donation or set up a monthly direct debit if they are able to. We would also love people to set up their own fundraising initiatives and of course, purchase the new Mad Love London charity t-shirt available from our official store www.pinkribbonfoundationstore.com People can also keep up to date with what we are up to by following us on social media.
On behalf of everyone at DARKUS we wish Lisa and the team at Pink Ribbon Foundation all the best. As mentioned this is something we can all play a role in, so act now and help make a positive difference today.
Article By Thushara S. Chandrasiri