The Cancer Champions project is being rolled out throughout Shropshire – with plans underway to launch it into Mid Wales too.
It is part of a national initiative known as Core20 to increase the uptake of cancer screening invitations, and help drive early cancer diagnosis and prevention, particularly within the 20 per cent most deprived areas.
Regional charity the Lingen Davies Cancer Fund is leading the work locally in partnership with Oswestry-based Qube community group, NHS Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, Shropshire Council, and Telford & Wrekin Council.
Two Cancer Champions co-ordinators are working throughout the county to recruit volunteers and train them to engage in conversations with peers about spotting the signs and symptoms of cancer and understand the importance of cancer screening to drive early diagnosis and prevention.
A series of multilingual videos have been produced by the project team to spread awareness about the signs and symptoms of cancer – particularly bowel, breast and cervical screenings.
They have been created in Mandarin, Ukranian, Polish, Bulgarian, and Punjabi, and are available for use by community health groups and organisations.
Shrewsbury Town footballers Matthew Pennington and Elliott Bennett have recorded a video highlighting the importance of the Cancer Champions project and encouraging people to take part – particularly in those areas less likely to engage with health screening initiatives.
Miranda Ashwell, LiveLife cancer awareness lead for Lingen Davies, said the project will focus on those areas of the community who are least likely to take up cancer screening opportunities or report possible signs or symptoms.
She said: “Current statistics show that one in two people will get cancer in their lifetime, we know that the early diagnosis of cancer is crucial in improving survival rates, so working to raise awareness about spotting the signs and symptoms of cancer is vital. Recruiting volunteer Cancer Champions will enable us to reach more people and have a potentially life-saving impact.
“Shropshire is a diverse community, and our aim is to empower people to help others to recognise what they can do to reduce the possible impact of cancer of their lives, and to help save lives. We have up to 40 people from across Shropshire and Telford who are supporting our work and will be undergoing training with us. It’s all about people having conversations with peers and helping encourage others to accept cancer screening invitations.
“We are very grateful to Matthew and Elliott for giving us their time to promote this initiative and we would welcome conversations with those keen to find out more,” she added.
The role of a champion is flexible so people can commit as much or as little time as they wish.
For more information about becoming a Cancer Champion and what the role involves, contact Michelle Moore email@example.com for the Telford area or Holly Corrigan at firstname.lastname@example.org for Shropshire queries.