Mabel and Lily are friends who regularly attend a local self-help group in Bolsover. They go to the group every Friday for a social afternoon. Mabel says, “We play bingo, have some food, celebrate our birthdays, and it’s lovely.” They appreciate the friendship the group provides and enjoy learning about new things from speakers who are invited. Lily says, “We mix, we communicate, we have people come in to tell us things of interest, and generally keep interested in life.”
Julie Akino, Project Co-ordinator for the Bolsover area, went along to the group to talk about breast cancer awareness as part of an outreach campaign delivered by Outreach Solutions on behalf of the North Trent Cancer Network. “It’s the fourth time I’ve seen her!” said Mabel.
Julie works at Age UK Derby and Derbyshire. She had been focusing on a particular postcode area within the Bolsover area, attending local groups to make them aware of the importance of checking for symptoms, the sorts of symptoms to look out for and to encourage them to visit their GP.
Hearing about breast cancer messages in their familiar group made Lily and Mabel feel more comfortable. “We’re all friends together!” they said. Lily said “Being given the information in a place where you feel comfortable and relaxed means you absorb more information. We all know each other and we’re not afraid to ask things we want to know, even if they’re a little bit more intimate.” Mabel and Lily both knew of other women in the group who had had breast cancer, and had gone through that with them, “so we listen carefully and take it all in,” says Lily.
Hearing what Julie had to say face-to-face strengthened the message and engaged Mabel and Lily more effectively than other communications channels such as getting a leaflet through the door. “It’s as though it’s delivered personally to you,” Lily said.
Lily and Mabel were both glad that they had attended the talk, and hearing about breast cancer from Julie and talking about it with their group has inspired them and many others to act on the message and check for symptoms.
Julie said, “People have come back to me when I’ve met them at another group and said that they’ve actually gone away and had their screening; they’ve booked an appointment and are having the screening or waiting for the results. And last week I caught up with ladies who’ve had their screening, have had their results and they’re all in the clear.”
Find out more about the impact of the project – watch the video.