This summer we're touring areas with a high Black population to get an important message out there. 1 in 4 Black men will get prostate cancer. So we've got our double decker bus and are hitting the road to talk to people about what they need to know about prostate cancer and how they can help.
On our second weekend of the tour we're in Manchester and Sheffield.
We kicked off our second tour date in Manchester with support from Manchester based organisation Black Health Agency (BHA), and three researchers from the field of prostate cancer, Mick, Darren and Debayan. We were at the Asda Hulme and had a steady flow of men and women approach the bus throughout the day. We know that prostate cancer is never going to be an easy sell: some men either weren’t interested, or proactively didn’t want to know. But for those that did come and see us, they were all really grateful we were there.
The highlight was a volunteer who we’d been introduced to us by BHA. Gilbert, or Gilly as he prefers to be known, had recently been given the all clear following his prostate cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment. He was full of passion and enthusiasm, almost pulling people off the street to talk to them about what they need to know about prostate cancer.
It was also rewarding to have the researchers on hand all say how much they enjoyed the experience, and it had given them a real appetite to get involved in other projects like this. The icing on the cake was seeing our tour in That’s Manchester and The Nubian Times, so hopefully many more men will hear the message and speak to their GP.
Sunday we trekked up to Sheffield and arrived next door to the home of snooker, The Crucible. Our bus stood proud in Tudor Square as we spoke to passersby walking into town for shopping or to the winter gardens down the road.
We were also joined by SAACH (Sheffield Action for African Caribbean Health) and a fantastic 15 volunteers. One of them, Keith, was a member of SAACH and was volunteering for the first time this weekend. It was great to hear how proud he was that we were in Sheffield, doing something to raise awareness of prostate cancer in this community.
As usual, all our volunteers were amazing. From 10-year-old Abel, helping with his mum Erica as she'd lost her dad to prostate cancer, to David and Malcolm who were making jokes with the men they spoke to about how old prostate cancer has or hasn’t made them look!
It was also great to see younger people showing a keen interest. One couple were really interested in our health information material, asking lots of questions about risk and signs and symptoms. We asked them how they found out about the tour and discovered that the woman’s brother had been at the Manchester roadshow the day before and told them we were coming to Sheffield the next day. Well done, you two, for looking out for each other!
We spoke to over a hundred men throughout the day and some knew the odd thing about the disease but many knew very little. So we were really chuffed when people weren’t just taking a pocket guide, but also a booklet about PSA tests and a flyer about joining Men United. And not just for themselves, but for their friends and family too.
The day was really capped off by an email we received later from volunteers Lerleen and Marie from SAACH, who had been fantastic at speaking to people throughout the day. Even after the bus left, they took leaflets to the local church and had further conversations with three West African men (one of whom asked for more leaflets for his friends), one African Caribbean man and his wife, and nine Somali men on their way home. The bus might have left Sheffield but our determination to change the future for Black men’s health will never leave us. We’re united in our drive to make a difference and reach as many people as we can.
Next stop, Birmingham...