Communities Against Cancer launches across Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Dorset this July

Community groups across Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Dorset will start work this month to help people reduce their risk of cancer, be aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer, and seek help at an earlier stage.

The groups are part of Communities Against Cancer – a new project funded by Wessex Cancer Alliance and run by Action Hampshire – which aims to increase the number of cancers diagnosed at an early stage and reduce health inequalities.

Charities and not-for-profit organisations were invited to bid for small or large grants to support local activities and community leaders will receive “cancer champions” training so they can have conversations about cancer with people in their local communities. Using community leaders in this way will help the NHS reach those people who prefer to talk to someone they know and trust within their own community.

Grants have been awarded to 16 community and not-for-profit groups so far. They include:

  • Dorset Race Equality Council, which will run public awareness events to reach people in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and people from black and minority ethnic groups;
  • Southampton Mencap, which will use the funds for the cancer champions to run educational workshops for paid and unpaid carers of people with learning disabilities, which in turn will support them to have conversations about cancer and cancer screening with the people they care for;
  • Mustard Seeds Ministry which will use the funding to support a variety of community events in Portsmouth to reach socially-isolated older people from lower-income households;
  • One Community in Eastleigh, which will hold regular drop-ins at community hubs, deliver talks on the signs and symptoms and how to prevent cancer, and build a network of Communities Against Cancer volunteers.
  • People First Dorset, which will run educational sessions for people with learning disabilities on what cancer is and who is at risk; how to spot it; what to do if you have symptoms and how to stay healthy.

Claire Vincent, Communities Against Cancer Project Co-ordinator at Action Hampshire said: “This is a fantastic way to reach people in the heart of their communities. By using local individuals, groups and organisations who already have links with the people we’re trying to reach, they are able to get these vital cancer messages across in creative and engaging ways.”

Matt Hayes, Medical Director at Wessex Cancer Alliance said: “One of the most important actions the NHS can take to improve cancer survival is to diagnose cancer earlier. The NHS Long Term Plan sets a new ambition that, by 2028, the proportion of cancers diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 will rise from around half now to three-quarters of cancer patients.  The earlier cancer is detected the more likely it is to be curable, so this really is important.

The Long Term Plan also makes a commitment to tackle persistent health inequalities.  We know that on average, people in disadvantaged areas have multiple long-term conditions 10 – 15 years earlier than those in better off neighbourhoods and over half of the equality gap is from deaths including deaths from cancers.

That’s why we have commissioned Action Hampshire to help us deliver a new community outreach programme to reach those communities we know are often less likely to have regular contact with healthcare professionals.”

Small grants of up to £500 are still available. Find out more by visiting Action Hampshire.