A cancer self-help group is now a registered charity, enabling it to continue helping people affected by cancer in Dorset.

Members and trustees at the Living Tree, based in Bridport, are excited about the opportunities it offers them, including fundraising.

Rita Bechervaise, a trustee of the Living Tree, said: “Becoming a registered charity raises our status in the local community and can assure the public that we are being monitored by the Charity Commission, from which we can seek advice and information.

“It raises the public’s trust in us that the money which is donated to the Living Tree can only be spent on our charitable objectives which are to serve our local community.

“We can claim gift aid on donations and some businesses and organisations will only donate to registered charities because registration raises our credibility.

“Raising funds is imperative if the Living Tree is to continue its work of supporting local people who have been affected by cancer so registration can really make a difference.”

Due to the coronavirus, the Living Tree has had to suspend its exercise activities, such as table tennis, swimming and walking. However, the cancer rehabilitation initiative, Stepping Out, which was co-started by the Living Tree, is being held by Zoom for the time being.

The Living Tree remains a thriving community and the trustees keep looking into ways to continue helping local people affected by cancer. One of the activities they have started to offer is drop-in Zoom meetings every second Friday. Initially these will consist of a short-led exercise, informal chat and art activities, but the group is looking to restarting its programme of speakers using Zoom. For more information, email thelivingtreedorset@gmail.com

The Living Tree also offers local residents affected by cancer its telephone buddies scheme. If you would like to chat with a Living Tree member about a non-medical issue, email thelivingtreedorset@gmail.com or text 07341 916976 with your name and phone number and they will get back to you.

The Living Tree would also like to highlight Macmillan’s telephone service to people living with cancer across the UK. This has trained and supported Macmillan volunteers offering a weekly telephone chat service, providing a listening ear and low-level emotional support as well as signposting. To sign up, visit macmillan.org.uk