Don’t be afraid – be cancer aware    

Don’t be afraid – be cancer aware    

We all want to lead healthy, active lives and have friends; as an employer, support provider and good neighbour we are working hard to facilitate and encourage this lifestyle for all.  

We run an extensive range of health campaigns and initiatives across the charity for the people we support staff and the wider community.  Our northern communities have been involved in a train the trainer cancer  awareness scheme with Macmillan Cancer Support in partnership with North East and Cumbria NHS Trust.

Developing knowledge and understanding

When you hear the word cancer it can evoke feelings of fear and confusion – and for people with learning disabilities this can be further exacerbated when finding it hard to talk to health professionals. The Macmillan training is specially designed for adults with learning disabilities and follows a ‘peer mentor’ approach.

The interactive training increases people’s understanding of cancer and their awareness of screening, and it also teaches people about how cancer is diagnosed and treated.

Stephen who took part in the training said ‘I didn’t know much about cancer, but now I’ve been to the training I know a lot more. I used to think cancer was scary and worrying but they helped me get over that. We heard real life stories,’ Stephen explains. ‘We did a role play about making an appointment. Doing the role play really helped.’

Peer mentoring

The training followed a ‘peer mentor’ approach, with a small groups of people being trained to carry the messages to their peers.  Sometimes it can be easier to talk initially to a friend about how you are feeling or worries you may have about your health.

The peer mentoring approach means that the participants are developing new skills. The training helped those who took part to feel more confident in speaking to their friends and sharing what they’ve learnt in the session. They have also learnt how to deliver information to people and how to support people who may have questions.  This all adds up to increased self-esteem.

‘If people want to talk to someone about cancer, they can come to me. I feel very confident and ready to talk  to people about it now,’ explained one of the new trainers.