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Let's Talk About: Working with Communities

You may have heard us mentioning our work with communities or “community interventions”, and wondered what it actually means. So we’re here to break it down, and explain what we do and why we do it.

What does a “community intervention” entail?

A “community intervention” involves us working with communities to raise awareness for bowel cancer and the screening programme. There are a few ways we can do this, it usually involves a member of the Health Promotion team giving a talk or a presentation, but it can also be something more in-depth like a workshop, demonstration, or a table event where we speak to passers-by. Our primary aim is to make sure that the audience understand how the screening programme works and its benefits. We also reiterate the risks associated with the disease and tackle any misconceptions people have about the disease or the test.

What does community mean?

We say “community” to mean any group of people really. We don’t just mean a religious institute or an ethnic minority group, though we do work with those. We’ve also worked with hobby and common interest groups such as knitting clubs, Zumba classes, football clubs and more general luncheon groups and Rotary clubs.

The Health Promotion team at Barnet Walking Football Team
The Health Promotion team at Barnet Walking Football Team

Why do you do them?

Bowel cancer is a widespread problem in the UK, as it’s the second highest cause of cancer deaths. It’s not because it’s difficult to treat and find, a lot of the fatalities are due to late-stage diagnosis which means a worse prognosis for the patients. With our community work we're trying to directly reach members of the public, the average person, so they know what's available to them and why they should be taking part in bowel cancer screening.We know that people are reluctant to take part due to various barriers associated with this condition. People often have a stigma around cancer, as well as the bowels being a very private part of the body.

What we’re aiming to do is break down these barriers. By talking about these issues in groups and non-clinical settings, we want to reinforce the idea that it’s okay to talk about and doesn’t need to be a taboo subject.

Do they help?

Though we can’t attribute it purely to our work, the screening rates have been increasing slightly over the years in North West London. Speaking anecdotally, a lot of the organisations and communities have told us they are extremely happy with what we provide, and not only feel more knowledge about bowel cancer screening but also more confident to perform the test.

The Health Promotion team at WISE (West-Indian Self Effort)
The Health Promotion team at WISE (West-Indian Self Effort)

How can I organise one?

If your organisation or community is situated in North-West London, you can contact the Health Promotion team at St. Mark’s Bowel Cancer Screening Centre on 0208 869 3376 or by emailing We’re very flexible with how we work, and can organise a time, date and venue that suits you and your members best.


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