Canning Town charity’s cancer screening project helps reduce demand for acute services

A Newham student tries out cancer screening equipment

A Newham student tries out cancer screening equipment - Credit: Community Links

A charity-led, NHS England-funded, project to detect cancer rates in individuals earlier has been hailed a success after reaching thousands of people in Newham.

Students and health officials discuss the Community Links� Detecting Cancer Early programmes

Students and health officials discuss the Community Links� Detecting Cancer Early programmes - Credit: Community Links

Social action charity Community Links developed the Detecting Cancer Early project in 2010, encouraging people to look after their wellbeing and act early to prevent health problems.

The project, which was launched as a result of Newham having the worst cancer survival rates in the UK, has so far reached 18,690 people and consists of two specific programmes.

The first involves telephoning at risk groups of individuals to persuade them to attend health screenings, after it was found that letter invitations and other reminder services weren’t working.

A seperate schools project, first piloted between 2009 and 2012, informs pupils about the signs and symptoms of cancer, the importance of self-examining, and encourages them to raise awareness with their parents.

The calling project has increased screening uptake by 15 per cent among each group it has contacted, while the schools project has resulted in the number of mums who self-check every month increasing by 46pc.

The successful models have been highlighted as successful case studies in a national report being released by Community Links today in partnership with the Big Lottery.

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A Rough Guide to Early Action: Seven stories of how society is acting earlier showcases how different services across the UK are championing early action and addressing the root causes of homelessness, re-offending and poor health.

Community Links Senior Adviser and Chair of the National Early Action Task Force, David Robinson said: “We know that early action makes sense.

“Why would we wait for people to become homeless, have their children taken into care or enter the criminal justice system when, by acting earlier and addressing the root causes of these problems, we could instead enable them to seize opportunities and fulfil their potential?

“This report provides examples of incredible organisations across the country doing just that.”

The authors hope that the findings will provide practitioners, policymakers and funders with evidence that early intevention in delivering services can build resilient and prospering communities, plus save money and transforms lives.