Trust Jess

Wessex Cancer Support relies on voluntary donations to provide free support to anyone living with cancer in our local communities.

Almost half of the money we raise comes from events and retail, so when covid-19 forced us to close our shops and cancel our packed calendar of activities, it hit us hard. But with cancer treatment delayed or surgery postponed, we knew many people would feel their world falling apart and need us more than ever.
An important part of our fundraising is to work with trusts and apply for grants. We spoke to Jess Zubaidi who co-ordinates all of this for us. She tells us why she’s been busier than ever, and how the response is a testament to the vital services we deliver.

Can you tell us a little bit about your role and what you normally do day-to-day?

Hi, I’m Jess and I work part-time for Wessex Cancer Support. I’m responsible for raising money from charitable trusts and foundations. I research which trusts support causes like ours, and write to them to ask for their support. I apply for funding towards our general costs but also for new projects and services, as needs are identified by our centre teams and services manager.

As part of my role, I produce papers for each new project or service we apply for, to tell a potential funder what the project is, how it will help, why it is needed and what it will cost. I also keep funders up-to-date, and write a report once their money has been spent, to tell them what impact their donation has had for local people.


My role might involve doing some online research of a new trust, or investigating trusts who support a particular project; speaking with service colleagues to gather details of a new project; completing an application form or writing an application letter, and of course, keeping on top of emails! 

How did this change when lock-down was announced?

When lock-down was announced my first priority was to communicate with all of the trusts and foundations currently supporting us, to tell them how we were responding to the pandemic and if that affected the way we would be using their grant.

Some of our projects, such as our MENTalk group in Bournemouth, were able to go online to continue to support clients isolating at home.Other new projects, such as our counselling in schools service, would need to be suspended. I had a very busy few days writing letters and emails to ensure our funders were updated and where relevant, happy for us to vary the terms of their grant.

How did you find out about emergency grants and funding? Was there much available that we could apply for?

Day by day after lockdown, charitable trusts, corporate foundations and councils started launching new pots of emergency money to support those charities responding to the pandemic.
Fortunately, because we acted quickly to develop and introduce a whole range of new remote and virtual services to continue to support vulnerable cancer patients and their families, we were able to tap into many of the emergency funds available.

Colleagues and volunteers kindly keep an eye out for funding opportunities and email me through newsletters and suggestions. I also have a fantastic volunteer, Kate, who helps one day a week with research (and has continued to from home throughout lockdown!)
How have you been getting on with applications?

Since lock-down we’ve secured more than £65,000 in grants, which is testament to the vital services we have been and still are delivering to our local communities.

Have things calmed down a bit for you now?

The emergency funding has tailed off and some charitable trusts have started to release recovery funding to help charities who are facing a drop in income as a result of the pandemic. So for me, things are no less busy as I investigate this new funding and do my best to secure some of it for Wessex Cancer Support.

I have several reports due over the next few weeks for grants we received in 2019, as well as reapplications to some of these trusts. I’m also excited to be able to look to the future now, and start applying for grants towards implementing our new strategy – hopefully grant funding can help us realise our aims over the coming year.

And on a personal note, how did you find managing work with home-schooling and your husband’s role as a key-worker?

Lockdown has thrown up a few extra challenges for me, as it has with everybody. My husband is a Police Officer so has been working as normal, and we have stepped up to share teaching duties for our six and nine year-old around shifts! It has felt like spinning plates at times, and life is certainly busier. But it’s rewarding for me to know that my work is making a difference at a time when our services are more in demand than ever.

To find out more about our partnerships with charitable trusts and foundations please get in touch with Jess.

Jessica Zubaidi
Trusts & Foundations Fundraiser
T: 023 8067 2200