Helping to raise awareness of cancer signs and symptoms within the local BAME community

Members from the Bangladeshi community told us that the subject of cancer was something that wasn’t often talked about within the community and many people had very little awareness of cancer signs and symptoms.
Women at a Healthwatch event

Our work has helped to tackle some of the related health inequalities, this often results in.

During November 2021 we arranged an online Cancer Awareness Session as part of our Health Campaigns programme for that year.  Members of the Sunderland Bangladesh and International Communities (SBIC) came along but informed us that they had found the subject matter very difficult to listen to due to cultural issues.  We were also informed that information provided to attendees after the session, which included a suite of videos explaining cancer and some of the signs and symptoms, was available in a range of languages but not in Bengali.

What difference did this make

As a result, we raised this issue with a representative from the Northern Cancer Alliance and we were able to link her up with members of SBIC.  This connection led to McMillan funding a piece of research for the SBIC to carry out around people from BAME communities and their experiences of cancer. 

McMillan have also funded and new pieces of work at the centre, which included funding for a Coordinator and two Support Workers.  This work will include starting conversations around cancer, cancer screening and also working with stakeholders and service providers to improve access to cancer services.

In addition a member of staff from the centre now sits as a Lay Member of the Northern Cancer Alliance and also has a seat on their Cancer Involvement Patient Forum.  Her place there has received good feedback and has in turn led to her making more links and contacts.

This work is all down to the fantastic introductions made by the Healthwatch Sunderland team, thank you. It will help to tackle health inequalities in our city and help people from BAME communities to understand cancer, start talking about it and understanding the importance of screening.

Nahida Aktar, Health & Wellbeing Lead, Sunderland Bangladeshi International Communities