Action to develop legislation and policy in Northern

Action Cancer was founded by oncologist, Dr George Edelstyn, in 1973.
The Action Cancer House was purchased three years later in 1976 to support
patients during treatment. It is now the centre for breast cancer research in
Northern Ireland.

Action Cancer is Northern Irelands leading local cancer charity.
Their mission is saving lives and supporting
people and they do this through cancer awareness, prevention, detection, and
support. Every year Action Cancer helps
save and support 50,000 people across Northern Ireland through the delivery of
their services.

These are some of the
services Action Cancer provides:

free mammograms (digital breast screenings that
detect early-stage breast cancer)

M.O.T. health checks for both men and women over

complementary therapies and pain relief

therapeutic services such as counselling,
coaching, and support groups

peer mentoring

information and advice on cancer, health, and
general wellbeing

education and prevention programmes

health promotion programmes

research into cancer

Campaigning and lobbying on cancer-related
issues to develop legislation and policy in Northern Ireland e.g. the bowel
cancer screening campaign in 2006 and the no smoking in cars ban in 2010.


These services are delivered through the Action
Cancer House, where I was situated, and on the Big Bus, which travels
throughout Northern Ireland to roughly 235 locations each year.

organisational chart I received during my induction in week two detailed the
organisations structure. Action Cancer is comprised of three broad sectors;

1.       Fundraising
and Communications,

2.       Corporate

3.       Professional


During my placement, I
worked in the professional services sector, more specifically, in research and
evaluation. My placement mentor, Caroline Hughes, is the research and
evaluation officer and director of research and evaluation and health
promotions. I worked with Caroline and alongside the health promotions officers
and students in the health promotions department.

There is a
total of 82 members of staff/students employed at Action Cancer. Volunteers
also contribute greatly to Action Cancer. 400
volunteers work with Action Cancer, contributing almost 1,000 hours of donated
time to various areas within the organisation. Volunteers are involved in every
area of the organisation and help in shops, with fundraising, with local
fundraising groups, as peer mentors, in therapeutic services, in the finance
department, at reception, at the tea bar, and with the council of management.

Action Cancer place
specialises in breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in
females: approximately 1,300 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year
in Northern Ireland and roughly 340 of them will lose their lives to it (breast
cancer care, 2015). Regular screening and breast awareness are the best ways to
reduce these numbers.

Breast screening can
detect changes which might not be seen or felt during a breast examination and
is available at the Action Cancer House (Monday – Friday) and onboard the Big
Bus (Tuesday – Saturday). Action Cancer is the only charity in Europe to offer
screening to women who fall outside the NHS range of 50-70. Screening is free
of charge but costs Action Cancer £80 per screening.

Action Cancer began screening women for breast cancer in 1978 – this
was the first-time breast screening was introduced in Northern Ireland. Action
Cancer has provided breast screenings for 135,000 women since. In
2015/2016 Action Cancer screened 10,787 women for breast cancer and for every
1,000 screenings 6 women have their cancer detected when it may have gone

Funding pressure is the
main constraint on the organisation’s development. Action Cancer is under
pressure to self-fund (on the basis of donations) £3.5 million per year in
order to deliver their services. Action Cancer
doesn’t receive government funding so relies entirely on donations from the
public. Because the organisation is funded through donations it is
important to make sure the money is being spent wisely.

Action Cancer lists
providing proven services that reduce risk, raise awareness, save lives and
provide support to people affected by cancer and effectively managing resources
and being financially strong as two of their key principles in the strategic
plan (see appendix). To do this Action Cancers research and evaluation
department assess current programmes and services to make sure they are useful.
This was the role I undertook whilst doing my placement at the Action Cancer
research and evaluation department.

The programme I evaluated
was the Why Weight? lifestyle change programme. My report and assessment would
help determine the programme’s success and establish whether it was a
worthwhile use of funds.


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