A North East cancer charity set up by a local breast cancer survivor is celebrating its ten-year anniversary.

FACT (Fighting All Cancers Together) was started by Joanne Smith after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, on her daughter’s second birthday, at the age of 34. Although Joanne felt she was well looked after medically during her four-and-a-half years of treatment, she noticed a lack of holistic care for cancer sufferers and their loved ones.

The charity now has a base in Swalwell, which hosts several social groups, exercise classes and therapy sessions, alongside operating seven charity shops across the region. The team also delivers a specialist education and awareness programme, which has so far involved over 9,000 people of all ages from the region’s schools, colleges and businesses.

Joanne, who is 47 and from Whickham said: “Cancer now impacts one in two people, which means half of the region need our support. During my experience with cancer and treatment I found that there were no services in the North East which provided emotional support to myself or my family.

“Initially, we set out to build partnerships with health professionals support groups and charities, however we soon realised that the organisations which we were looking for simply didn’t exist. We then developed a programme of support, following by am education and awareness programme to delivered into schools, colleges and workplaces.

“We are very proud of what a great organisation we have built in the last ten years. We’ve been able to support so many people who may not have had access to these services. Our success and ability to grow has been supported by local businesses who saw our potential and have assisted us from the start.”

Leading North East commercial law firm PG Legal has supported Joanne and FACT with many of its leases. Director Phil Dean said: “Joanne is an inspirational person who decided to take her own personal experiences and use them in order to make a difference to thousands of people in the region. We are very proud to have assisted the team at FACT in their bid to expand and continue offering these valuable services to those who need it most.”

Joanne continued: “We look to develop long-term relationships with those who have assisted us along the way. Phil and the team at PG Legal have been fantastic throughout, providing us with support and advice which has allowed us to continue opening revenue streams through our charity shops. We rely on funding and donations, so this really allows us to continue expanding our services.”