Tackle Prostate Cancer charity, the voice of prostate cancer patients and their families in the UK is delighted to announce the appointment of Sarah Gray as its new National Support and Development Manager.
The charity has been awarded funding by the National Lottery for the project Tackling Prostate Cancer – peer-to-peer support for men with prostate cancer. Sarah will lead this 3-year project with an aim to develop and support groups across England and assist them to support their members and encourage new membership, alongside growing Tackle’s network of patient-led Prostate Cancer Support Groups by working with healthcare professionals to set up new support groups in identified areas and encourage referral for peer-to-peer support.
Working across health and social care for the majority of her career, Sarah Gray brings with her a wealth of experience of working collaboratively with stakeholders and patients to bring about effective change and service improvements for the care and support of people living with a variety of life limiting and long term conditions. Sarah has previously worked in regional roles across the West and East Midlands for Macmillan Cancer Support, Parkinson’s UK and British Lung Foundation. With British Lung Foundation, Sarah was part of a project funded through the Health Foundation which looked at alternative models of peer support for people living with COPD. More recently, Sarah has been working with Prostate Cancer UK on scaling up and rolling out nationally an evidenced based model of supported self-management. Sarah’s own father is living with advanced prostate cancer, so she understands the impact and consequences that treatments can often have on a man’s life.
Sarah is delighted to be working for Tackle Prostate Cancer on this 3 year funded project and said: “I have listened to many stories from men on how valuable peer support is, and how important it is for them to have a space to learn from others in a similar situation to themselves. I am looking forward to learning from the amazing work done by the current peer support groups, and working together with them, as well as other charity partners and healthcare professionals to ensure that more men are able to tap into local support from people who understand what it is like to live with and beyond prostate cancer.”
Tackle Prostate Cancer is a patient-led charity addressing the real issues people face when they are diagnosed with prostate cancer and helping people to cope with their diagnosis and treatment. As a National Federation, Tackle has 90 support groups across the country, representing some 15,000 members. Many groups contributed to an online survey last year. The answers to which provided much of the background for the lottery application and helped towards its success.
When the lockdown period began, it was clear that Tackle’s network of face-to-face support groups would need to be put on hold. Sarah has already had success moving groups into a virtual format so Tackle can reach people in their own homes.
Sarah Gray said: “At the end of my first week, I was invited to sit in on a Zoom meeting for the Reading group. Around 35 men and some wives were online. It was a great meeting, with an inspiring clinician who gave an informative talk on Brachytherapy, lots of time to ask questions, share experiences and also time for club news including a forthcoming walk . Everyone was welcoming, relaxed and friendly. What was also interesting was that not everyone was from Reading, which got me thinking about some of the opportunities for Zoom meetings and how it can break down geographic barriers.”
Ken Mastris Chairman of Tackle Prostate Cancer said: “On behalf of the Trustees, I am delighted to welcome Sarah Gray to Tackle. This is a great opportunity to help more men and their families feel less isolated, better supported and more empowered to navigate their cancer journey.”
Prostate cancer is now a bigger killer than breast cancer, making prostate cancer the third biggest cancer killer in the UK. Every penny raised will make a difference, lives will be saved and more people will be aware of the need to be tested.
Along with the lottery funding Tackle will also be continuing to meet its objectives of campaigning on behalf of patients and raising awareness in the community. It will also enable the ‘Save a Dad’ initiative to be followed through in secondary schools where the aim is to get a discussion on prostate cancer in the National Curriculum, just as breast cancer is included today. Working through secondary schools Tackle would like to make teenagers aware that prostate cancer will impact 1 in 8 of their dads. The charity hopes that by educating the next generation about the importance of men being tested earlier it can help “Save a Dad”.