Over the last few months, Answer Cancer has been working extensively in Bolton, in partnership with Bolton Healthwatch, to deliver a number of awareness raising sessions across the area.

This partnership approach has enabled Answer Cancer to engage with diverse communities whilst also raising the profile of Answer Cancer in Bolton. This success of this can be evidenced with high level of attendance from Bolton organisations at the Stakeholder Collaborative held in December, and also a high level of applications for small grants from groups based in Bolton.

By focussing on a single area, the project was able to build momentum with messages reinforced over several sessions. As a result, it was able to engage successfully with its target groups, in particular South Asian British Women and cervical screening. This presented some challenges around language barriers, which the project addressed by utilising the ability of some Answer Cancer staff to speak community languages, using group members to translate and making use of simple Easy Read material along with props and illustrations.

Another barrier faced was around culture and religion which required additional training for healthcare workers, and a community-led approach to address cultural issues and common myths. A Bolton Healthwatch, survey found that the social fears linked to cervical screening were double that of the fear of getting bad news, and were deemed as a factor for half of the 1,300 plus respondents. This was the biggest single factor to low cervical screening take up. Time off from work was also a factor for 20% of women.

Answer Cancer will continue to work with groups in Bolton, in particular the 10 organisations who were successful in their application to the Answer Cancer Fund. We will be supporting them to deliver their activity and look forward to welcoming the new Cancer Champions that they recruit.