A Prestwich Jewish charity is raising awareness of the importance of cervical cancer screenings.

The Fed’s volunteer services department, represented by volunteer project coordinator Julie Abramson, and deputy manager Tammi Wise, attended Answer Cancer’s Champions Winter Warmer Celebration on Wednesday, January 16.

The Fed was one of several voluntary organisations invited to give presentations about their involvement in improving cancer awareness, particularly the take up of invitations to cervical cancer screenings.

Susan Crabb is the programme manager of Answer Cancer which promotes cancer awareness and screening attendance in Greater Manchester, through partnership with the voluntary sector.

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At the event at the St Thomas Centre in Ardwick Green, The Fed was given special recognition, receiving the Answer Cancer Champions Award 2024.

Susan commented about the hard work that The Fed volunteers put in to help people overcome barriers to accepting screening invitations.

She said: “Your dedication and hard work in raising awareness about cancer screening and prevention have made a significant impact in our communities across Greater Manchester.

"Your personal experiences and stories have inspired others and have played a crucial role in spreading important information.”

The Fed’s collaboration with Answer Cancer began with initial funding in January 2022, working solely within the Jewish community.

This expanded to cover the wider community from November 2022, with the cervical screening project.

Led by Julie Abramson, existing and specially recruited new Fed volunteers were placed in GP surgeries, charged with phoning patients to book them in for screening appointments and making 20 to 30 calls in a two-hour session, with a strong conversion rate.

Volunteers received specialist training from Answer Cancer around screening, making difficult calls and dealing with difficult questions from patients. In addition, they were trained to use software to access patient records and appointment systems.

Dalia Kaufman, manager of The Fed’s volunteer services, spoke about the attraction of specialist volunteer roles.

She said: “Some people who offer us their time are looking for an opportunity to stretch themselves, learn new skills and feel they are making a wider impact – so a project like this one is ideal for them.

"Others were drawn to it due to their own or a loved one’s experience of cancer and wanting to help reduce the number of people having to go through this.

“Our volunteers were able to give more time to each phone call than the GP staff are able to, listening to and addressing patients’ concerns.

"Consequently, virtually all appointments were filled. There was an immense sense of achievement in knowing their calls may have saved a people’s lives.

“As part of our work with Answer Cancer we faced the unique challenge of conveying vital messages about screening to the ultra-orthodox communities who hold strong cultural and religious beliefs and practices. Smart phones and social media are taboo.

"Our messaging had to be in print, translated into modern-day spoken Yiddish, and tailored so as not to cause offence, through what might be considered immodest images.

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“Moreover, cancer is not openly talked about - the very word is avoided.

"And there are myths that our volunteer callers had to dispel when inviting people to cervical cancer screening such as ‘if you have not had sex, you can’t get cancer,’ or ‘if you only have sex with one partner you can’t get cancer’.

"There is also a lot of fear that a cancer diagnosis will have an impact on a family’s reputation and could affect chances of making a successful shidduch.”

Apart from the Answer Cancer project, The Fed regularly promotes all types of cancer screening via its social media platforms.

In addition, its community services teams, the community advice and support team and volunteer services team support people going through treatment or living with cancer via various services.

For more information about volunteering for The Fed call 0161 772 4800 or email. For more information about Answer Cancer visit: www.answercancergm.org.uk