Unfortunately, we will have to live with the Coronavirus crisis and social distancing for quite some time to come. With this in mind, and to help as many communities as possible, we’re announcing the launch of our new digital campaign.

Answer Cancer are looking for digital champions who can support friends, neighbours, and colleagues to stay physically and emotionally healthy while social distancing restrictions are in place. We also want to encourage people to access healthcare services for other potentially serious, non-Covid, conditions including cancer. The NHS is looking at how it can help people who need them and have stayed away.

Since Coronavirus hit, the NHS has seen a significant drop in the rates at which people access services for the treatment of potentially serious health conditions such as cancer, heart attacks and strokes. Healthcare experts are concerned this means many people who should be accessing treatment are avoiding doing so. This means it’s important that we share the message that if you’re experiencing the symptoms of a potentially serious health condition such as cancer then you should seek medical advice.

Though social distancing measures are essential for reducing the transmission of Coronavirus and saving lives, they also present challenges for those trying to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing. In this period of greater uncertainty and isolation, and increased barriers to getting enough exercise, it’s essential that communities come together and support each other in staying healthy and connected.

It’s here our digital Answer Cancer Champions come in. In this new volunteering opportunity, you’ll be trained and supported in helping to protect the health of your community – primarily through the use of digital technologies such as mobile phones and social media, so that you’re able to do this while remaining socially distant. Signing up as a digital Answer Cancer Champion is a great way to support your community and make a positive contribution during this difficult time. It’s also an opportunity to start important conversations and learn new skills, and a pathway to becoming a highly active Answer Cancer Champion beyond social distancing should you wish to do so.

As a digital Answer Cancer Champion you can commit as much or as little time as you wish to the role. If you’re keen to get stuck in and organise regular online events that’s amazing, but if all you can spare is a couple of minutes each week you can still make a big difference by committing to regularly sharing our health and wellbeing advice and resources on social media. Here’s a quick flavour of some of the ways you can get involved as a digital Cancer Champion:

  • Follow us on social media and share our content
    We regularly share health and wellbeing advice and resources via our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages, working closely with the NHS to ensure everything we publish is accurate and up to date. Sharing this content is a great, low-effort way to get this information out.
  • Commit to regularly sharing our content and sign up for WhatsApp/text updates
    The algorithms on social media mean that it’s often easy to miss posts, so ensure you’re kept up-to-date we’ve set up a WhatsApp list where you’ll be notified about one or two key messages we’d like you to share each week. You can join the WhatsApp group by clicking here. Don’t worry if you’re not on WhatsApp, we’re also able to send out these notifications by text – just ask us.
  • Share health and wellbeing advice and resources via phone calls and text
    Not everyone is on social media, and not everyone is has access to the internet. Right now it’s especially important for us to be able to reach these people because of the additional isolation they face under current social distancing measures. To help everyone stay healthy and connected through this crisis, we’re asking Answer Cancer Champions to commit to regularly reaching out to the people in their life who face digital exclusion, to check in with them, and to share health and wellbeing advice. These people could be relatives, friends, neighbours, or anyone else in your community. We’ve set up a WhatsApp list to provide dedicated support for this and to update you on the advice we’d like you to share each week. You can join the WhatsApp group by clicking here (it’s different to the group above). Again, we’re also able to send out these notifications by text, if you’d prefer for us to reach you that way please just let us know.
  • Learn more about cancer and cancer screening services
    There are lots of common myths and misconceptions about cancer, so it’s important that we share the right information. The Answer Cancer Champions website has lots of training and resources which you can work through at your own pace. We recommend starting out with our brief Cancer Champions introduction module and Cancer Champions screening quiz, then working through Cancer Research UK’s Talking About Cancer training for a little more depth.
  • Encourage other members of your community to sign up as Cancer Champions too
    Cancer Champions is a movement. The more people we can sign up, the greater the number of people our message will reach, and the bigger the impact we can have in improving the health and wellbeing of communities in Greater Manchester. The best way to help the movement grow is to encourage the people you know to sign up as Answer Cancer Champions. This is most effectively done through a conversation, but feel free to share this blog post with them too so they can read more about us in their own time. Remember to point them in the direction of our sign up form
  • Encourage an organisation you’re involved with to sign up as an Answer Cancer Champions
    Just like individuals, organisations can sign up as Answer Cancer Champions too. If you think an organisation which you work or volunteer for might consider signing up as an Organisational Answer Cancer Champion, please let us know and we’ll send you more information on what this involves and support you in getting the organisation signed up. If you have the authority to sign your organisation up now you can do so for free online by filling out this short form.
  • Host online meetings to share health and wellbeing information and keep your community connected
    Using software like Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype it’s possible to video call with many people at the same time if you have a smart phone or computer. Such meetings are great for directly engaging with a larger number of people. Don’t worry if you don’t feel confident with these technologies at the moment, we’re currently developing training to support you in developing these skills which we’ll be launching soon.

If any of this sounds appealing, the next step is to sign up as an Answer Cancer Champion. Once you’ve done this we’ll be in touch to learn more about how you’d like to contribute, what you’d like to get out of your experience, and how we can support you with these goals. If you’d rather talk through what you might do, please feel free to ring me on 07425 918971.

We’re committed to supporting all our Answer Cancer Champions in the work they do, and to this end we’re constantly developing new training. If you can spare just 1 minute, please take the time to fill out this quick survey letting us know more about the kinds of training you’re interested in and the ways in which you’d like to be involved. This will help us so we can better help you.

Michael Mcgearty
Network and Events Coordinator
Answer Cancer