The events form part of Kingston’s Core20 work, a national NHS initiative that sees efforts prioritised to support the most disadvantaged communities and tackle inequalities and were carried out with the support of Kingston Council’s public health team.
The first event was held at the end of last year for a group of women from Hong Kong, some who arrived recently to the borough and others that have lived in the area for a long time. Archana, and an interpreter met with the group, which ranged in age from 20 to 80, in Kingston Library
Archana also attended a Women’s Health Day held by Kingston Refugee Action on Friday 27 January where over 60 women from Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, Iran, India and Sri Lanka attended.
The sessions saw the groups learn more about why screening is so important and about any signs and symptoms that should be reported to a GP. Archana also explained how the procedures are carried out and gave participants the opportunity to see and handle some of the equipment that is used.
Some of the women who attended had never had a smear test and some had been holding back from booking one due to fear and uncertainty about the process. Archana also demonstrated how women can check their breasts and several women approached after the event to discuss concerns they had about themselves or family members.
If we can remove the barriers of misinformation, lack of knowledge and fear, we can make sure as many women as possible take up the offer of a smear test.”Archana Sood, Macmillan Information and Support Manager at Kingston Hospital
Archana said: “It is fantastic to get the support to do work in the community like this. My role is often to talk to people that already have cancer, but we also look at prevention and how people can find cancers earlier and have a better chance of a full recovery.
“Cervical and breast screenings are key examples of this and if we can remove the barriers of misinformation, lack of knowledge and fear, we can make sure as many women as possible take up the offer of these vital tests.”
Sanja Djeric Kane, Chief Executive Officer of Kingston Voluntary Action which manages the Core20 funding for Kingston, said: “These sorts of events are crucial in making sure that health and wellbeing services are accessible to all our communities in Kingston.
“It is easy to forget that what might feel normal to some could be seen as a barrier for others. Just talking through why cancer screening is important and reassuring people about the processes can have a ripple effect and mean that groups of people not engaging with healthcare currently gain the confidence to do so.”