Grassroots leader taking cancer awareness to the Wirral community

A campaign to reduce the number of cancer deaths in Wirral through a pioneering awareness project has been taken to another level – with the appointment of a community helper in the area.

Last year, Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Alliance launched a ground-breaking initiative to support grassroots organisations to spread awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer – and health advice to prevent it developing in the first place – so that communities could help themselves to reduce the number of people in their locality dying of the disease.

Around 30 organisations were given funding for projects to spread cancer information within their communities with the aim of increasing the number of people being diagnosed with cancer early, when treatment is easier and more successful to cure.

Now, eight Social Action Leads have been recruited to help support community organisations in all areas across Cheshire and Merseyside, so many more people can be reached with the awareness messages, including the appointment of Rhian Davies in Wirral.

Rhian has a background working in healthcare, the emergency services, and as a teaching assistant. She is currently working in the Prehabilitation Team for One Wirral CIC, which gives physical and wellbeing support for patients who have a cancer diagnosis.

Rhian said, “Working with this cohort of individuals has given me the drive and passion to help make changes to how we see cancer, and to help educate local communities on cancer and cancer risks, supporting those in need to combat barriers they may face in accessing information and support.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our Wirral residents to work together and tackle some myths and educate each other as a community.”

The recruits are now in place as part of the next stage in the Cancer Alliance’s Community Engagement Project, which funded projects that included a school in Warrington delivering health messages to children, and parents and a sports club in Knowsley helping families to become fitter.

The first year of the Project has been evaluated by a team from the University of Chester, with positive results and the researchers, from the university’s Department of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition, have made a series of observations that have been fed back to the Cancer Alliance so that the Project could be refined.

The Social Action Leads are pictured with Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Alliance project manager Moray Hayman, right, who leads the initiative

Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Alliance project manager Moray Hayman, who leads the initiative, said, “We are very excited to be taking this project to the next level and see how the new Social Action Leads can support our fantastic grassroots organisations across Cheshire and Merseyside to raise awareness of cancer.

“These organisations all have one thing in common – they know their communities well and talk to them regularly. We want them to talk about the early diagnosis of cancer, which is more important than ever as the incidence of the disease grows.

“A simple conversation might be all that is needed for a screening appointment to be taken up, a visit to a GP surgery arranged, or a call to NHS 111 made.”

The Social Action Leads are Sam Lewis – Halton; Lauren Newall – Knowsley; Alicia Watson – Sefton; Lucy Coates – Cheshire East; Rhian Davies – Wirral; John Buchanan – Cheshire West; Helen Parker – Warrington; Steph Gregory – Liverpool.

For more information and to contact the Social Action Leads, see: https://cmcanceralliance.nhs.uk/work/prevention-early-diagnosis/early-diagnosis-community-engagement

Lead image: Rhian Davies

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