community postit.pngThe Early Diagnosis Community Engagement project aims to support the earlier diagnosis of cancer which will save lives and improve quality of life for people affected by cancer.

It has a focus on tackling inequalities in cancer outcomes across Cheshire and Merseyside, and support and empower the population of these targeted areas.

The project seeks to support local communities to reduce their risk of dying from cancer, by improving community understanding and awareness of signs and symptoms of cancer and encouraging appropriate health seeking behaviour.

By working with voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations from three places, Halton, Knowsley and Warrington, it focuses on improving knowledge of the signs and symptoms of cancer within local communities, encouraging more people to go for NHS screening when they are invited, and to reduce inequalities in access to high-quality cancer treatment and care through a small grants programme.

gardening.jpgAlmost ​​​​​​​one quarter (23%) of Cheshire and Merseyside neighbourhoods are within the 10% most deprived in England, with wide variation between Cheshire CCG (5%) and Liverpool CCG (49%). Across the region health deprivation is also higher (33%) than national averages.

In addition:

  • Cheshire and Merseyside has 16,000 new cancer cases and 7,000 deaths due to cancer each year
  • Cancer incidence is 5% higher than England, and cancer mortality is 8% higher
  • Over 2.6 million people are registered with GP practices in the Cheshire and Merseyside area
  • In 2018, almost 100,000 of those people were living with a diagnosis of cancer.

Early stage diagnosis is similar to England (53%) with little recent improvement. On average, each GP practice needs to diagnosis 7 additional patients at an early stage each year to reach 75% ambition. One year survival has improved from below to above England average, however, CCG range has widened.

discussing.jpgStakeho​​​​​​​lder members of the three target areas of Knowsley, Halton & Warrington have declared through engagement & scoping that the vision for the service should be to provide an offer of support for communities to access greater awareness of early signs and symptoms of cancer. It is vital to ensure that this information is of high quality, and to deliver support in line with national and local guidance and protocols across the three targeted areas.

As a result, CMCA has partnered with Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations; Warrington Voluntary Action, One Knowsley and Halton and St Helens Voluntary and Community Action, to fund a small grants programme where voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise organisations are invited to apply to fund projects that will support some, or all, of the following objectives:

  • Reduction in the number of people entering hospital and receiving diagnoses via accident & emergency
  • Increase in people accessing support including information, advice and signposting
  • Increase in access to early intervention services with people being diagnosed earlier
  • More people supported to achieve emotional wellbeing
  • Reduce stigma and discrimination relating to cancer diagnosis
  • Support co-working and collaboration between primary care services and health and social care to meet the totality of individual and family needs
  • Increase levels and models of mutual/peer support
  • Improve outcomes for families and carers through signposting/referral
  • Reduce late stage 3 and 4 cancer diagnoses

The Cheshire & Merseyside Cancer Alliance is working in partnership with Community voluntary organisations to support groups to engage with their users and raise awareness of cancer, its early signs and symptoms and the importance of attending cancer screening when called. It's about considering how your organisation can create and deliver awareness to the people you connect with in your community. It's not about creating whole new cancer support services.

Each VCSE organisation received a total of £100,000 as part of this project; £90,000 to be provided as small grants and £10,000 to administer the project and to enable the relevant community development, the partnership between CMCA and the VCSE organisations was formally announced on 6th June 2022.

CMCA has adopted a genuine co-development approach with these organisations as demonstrated by the Chief Officers from each one:

Warrington Voluntary Action logoWarrington Voluntary Action

Alison Cullen, Chief Officer

“This is a really worthwhile project to improve the understanding of cancer in our community. We will be ensuring that the information provided by our community groups is of a high quality and working with Cheshire & Merseyside Cancer Alliance will help us with this. The groups we work with can also signpost people to appropriate cancer services and where to find further information if required.”

One Knowsley Logo

Racheal Jones, Chief Executive Officer

“We are really pleased to be partnering with Cheshire & Merseyside Cancer Alliance to help our fantastic community groups, who do so much in our communities, to pass on important information about cancer to their members and the wider public. This is a ground-breaking project which is designed, ultimately, to save lives.”

Halton and St Helens Voluntary and Community Action logo

Sally Yeoman, Chief Executive

“We are looking forward to working with Cheshire & Merseyside Cancer Alliance to deliver positive change in our areas through our wonderful community groups, which will ultimately mean reducing the number of people dying unnecessarily from cancer.”

Groups applying for grants must be willing to commit to working as part of the Community of Practice. This will involve sharing experiences, learning and good practice with their VCSE’s and fed back to CMCA.

The Voluntary and Community Organisations eligible for this fund are:

  • Constituted organisations and non-registered charities
  • Registered charities, including charitable incorporated organisations (CIOs)
  • Community Interest Companies (CICs) and community benefit organisations (where there is a minimum of three unrelated directors)
  • Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs)
  • Churches and other religious organisations (if the funded activity is not deemed to be proselytising)

Not eligible under this programme are:

  • Grants that are solely for the provision of bursaries to individuals or families cannot be awarded
  • Individuals cannot apply
  • Statutory bodies such as city and county councils or health institutions cannot apply
  • Cancer support groups and existing cancer services

Since the announcement of the partnership in June and the subsequent launch of the grants programme in each of the three VCSE geographical sectors, we have seen some unique, innovative and inspiring applications. The first grants have been awarded and work has already begun to start creating change, to embed messaging around raising awareness of the early signs and symptoms of cancer and to communicate as widely as possible that early diagnosis saves lives.

For example, Brook Acre Community Primary School in Warrington have been awarded just over £4,000 to create a ‘Well Being Warriors’ project. Their project is an intergenerational piece of work between children and their families about the wellbeing factors that affect cancer.

The year 5/6 children have pushed back on the national messaging they were asked to take back home to parents and carers. They instead want to create an environment where it is safe to bring their families in to the school to have important discussions about giving up smoking and why you should eat a healthy diet, and live a healthier lifestyle overall, with the important embedded messaging of early detection of cancer.