Many people ask me why I call myself a disruptor, they think it is some fancy title, but here is the definition that describes it most appropriately. ‘Your idea far exceeds the status quo. You don’t just want to see your business model become a reality, you want it to become the new standard. You don’t just want your product idea to make it to market, you want to see it change the world. Unlike other people in your industry, you don’t want to settle for adjusting to changes, you want to be that change. In other words, you want to be so innovative, you will transform what the rest of the world accepts as normal. You are an entrepreneur, but you aren’t just building a business or a product; you are disrupting things.’
This is my ambition in the cancer sector, which of course is an incredibly tough job! But I am making progress, and since the introduction of my charity simPal into the mix I am seeing at very close quarters the poor standards that currently exist. Unfortunately I also need to add politics into this piece, as ultimately they have the final say on budgets and policy within healthcare. In recent years I am totally embarrassed by politicians across all parties, constantly fighting with each other and achieving nothing except chaos! Giant egos using the media for personal agendas. Not too unlike the behaviour of Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK.
My eleven years of personal cancer experience have shown me that despite the many millions donated to both these charities, we are no closer to a cure for cancer, and have very little meaningful support for people living with the disease. They are both very jumpy when asked what they actually do, and hide behind their very broad titles. Brand has become king to these organisations and they are proud to show us their ‘incredible corporate partnerships’ with some of the biggest high street brands. But for whose benefit do these exist? Of course it is always good to see awareness of cancer and it’s issues being raised, but let’s not kid ourselves here, this is all about money, and mutually beneficial marketing. Big brands working with big brands, I can only see one winner, and it is not people affected by cancer.
According to Macmillan Cancer Support there were 2.5million people living with cancer in the UK in 2015. They tell us in their expensive advertising how they are there for us all, how can that be? Shaking a bucket at us maybe, but not offering help for that number of people? Cancer Research telling us they will cure cancer sooner, with our financial help, whilst the numbers of people being diagnosed is increasing rapidly! Would we like to leave money to these giants through their free will-writing service, whilst they continue to use their vast data bases to bombard vulnerable people with continuous financial requests?
Both of these organisations have little interest in meaningful engagement with people affected by cancer, unless they are fundraising or being used in a tick-box exercise focus group for a new crack-pot idea that will be wasting more donors money. Whilst these guys continue with their bloated organisations and job titles, telling us how much they are doing on our behalf, community charities are making a massive impact. Doing work directly with people affected by cancer and changing lives. By using the word community I am not necessarily meaning small, but working in an all inclusive way, where everyone is made to feel part of the process, and has a value. Technology has changed things dramatically and the NHS, politicians and charity giants are not agile enough to change quickly to what is currently required.
There is now a very open dialogue going on outside of these organisations, and their closed way of working has left them isolated from the discussions. They, like our politicians are totally out of touch with what people require. I get very angry when I see articles in the media, with lazy interviews from these same organisations, who no longer represent us effectively. Why do the media continue to just use these people? There is so much better work going on. Of course they all have media and influencing teams, well paid to seize any opportunity of promoting their own dialogue. Now I can see how politicians see the synergy!!
The executives of these organisations believe that the world of cancer revolves around them, with their obsessive self-promotion. ‘Brand blindness’ meaning none of them refer people to services outside of their own organisation. A disgrace in this day and age with resources stretched to breaking point. It is quite clear to see that there is so much self interest here I have no faith in the current system at all! I am still seeing millions of pounds spent on campaigning about the same issues that I was seeing eleven years ago. No private businesses would ever use their own money in this way, but of course this is money that has been DONATED, with trust that it will be used to help people.
Through everything I do in this sector I will be continually probing and pushing for better! This is not an issue about money, but total negligence in many cases, so bring on 2019!!
As always these are my own experiences and opinions, please feel free to share your own below.
I am an official support partner of the Grove Hotel in Bournemouth. The only hotel in the UK specifically for people affected by cancer and other life limiting conditions.