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The Picture in Bristol


Cancer is the leading cause of early death in Bristol.  A recently published Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA 2017-18) identified striking health inequalities across Bristol for people living with cancer.  In the most deprived areas, mortality rate due to cancer for under 75s is a staggering 47% higher than for those living in the most affluent areas.  This is the single biggest health inequality currently affecting communities within the city.


The root cause of this disparity is undoubtedly complex.  Lifestyle choices that have been identified as leading to an increased risk of cancer amongst Bristol’s poorest residents include:


·         increased levels of smoking

·         alcohol intake

·         obesity

·         poor diet

·         lower screening uptake

·         late diagnosis

The real tragedy for people and families in Bristol, is that these all represent preventable risk factors.  Our idea, and this project, are all about taking the first steps to bridge the cancer health gap in our city. 


What can be done to tackle Health Inequalities?


The Bristol JSNA report made a number of recommendations to help reduce health inequalities in Bristol:


·     Work to reduce inequalities in communities known to have the highest rates of early cancer deaths.

·        Provide targeted cancer symptom awareness campaigns.

·  Provide effective advice and support to enable and encourage people to adopt and maintain healthier lifestyles.

·         Work to improve uptake in cancer screening programmes.

·         Maximize opportunities for delivering prevention and behavior change messages.

·     Think holistically to help people live well with, and beyond cancer and maximize positive outcomes and prevent future ill health.


We believe that there may not be a ‘one solution fits all’ approach to delivering these recommendations.  Bristol is a city built of unique communities, and we must have a better understanding of their individual needs if we are to deliver positive outcomes and lasting change.  This project is about co-developing solutions with the people impacted by health inequalities. 


Why Penny Brohn UK?


Penny Brohn UK is a national cancer support charity dedicated to helping adults with cancer live life as fully as possible.  We provide a comprehensive programme of support from the point of diagnosis, during treatment and beyond.  As leaders in the field of cancer self-management education, we work closely with NHS partners in Bristol and other parts of the UK, to deliver effective, tailored cancer support services.    


For more information about our work please do post a question, or take a look at our website:


Our Ethos


We believe that talking to people in their communities is critical for the development of effective solutions to deliver and embed positive change.  We now have an understanding of which communities are experiencing the poorest health outcomes, but in terms of reducing the health gap between our city’s richest and poorest, ‘the how’ is critical.  Our experience tells us that we need to engage with people in Bristol, and to give them a strong voice in developing sustainable, workable solutions.


The How


We are seeking support to fully fund a Community Engagement Project, which will inform the design of a Health and Wellbeing Programme to improve outcomes for people in Bristol. 


With funding from the Q Exchange, we can employ a dedicated Community Engagement Facilitator, to implement and lead the Community Engagement Project, which seeks to:


ü      Build relationships with communities or groups identified as being most at risk of an early, preventable death from cancer in Bristol.

ü      Establish what the barriers are which discourage uptake of existing screening, follow-up services or support systems in Bristol.

ü      Identify if there are new services or resources which may better meet the needs of those most disadvantaged.   

ü      Work closely with the Penny Brohn UK’s Research and Evaluation team to analyse community input, share learning with partner organisations and stakeholders. 

ü      Work closely with the Penny Brohn UK Services Team and our local NHS partners in the planning of an initial health and wellbeing provision to tackle cancer health inequalities.

ü      Create a model that could be trialed elsewhere/share learning experiences.   


The Bigger Picture


This project represents the first determining step in developing effective services and resources to improve outcomes for people in the poorest communities within our city.  The relationships that we build, and the findings from this project will feed directly into the development of a targeted Health and Wellbeing Programme.  We do not anticipate getting this Programme 100% right at the first pass, and continual improvement will form the basis of how this Programme evolves year on year.  Building lasting relationships with communities and our partners will help ensure we are always moving in the right direction and making the most our individual areas of expertise and experience.       


It’s vital we share learning from this project, as health inequality is not a problem unique to Bristol.  We want to maximise the value of this work, to communicate our findings, to identify what works and what doesn’t; and involvement and engagement from the Q community would be invaluable throughout this process. 


Please get in touch, let us know what you think, and help us improve our idea and shape this project.

How you can contribute

  • What do you think of our idea?
  • Would you like to be involved?
  • Do you have community links in Bristol and would like to help?
  • Have you tackled similar issues elsewhere?
  • Is there a better/different approach to reducing health inequalities?
  • Are there communities within Bristol you think we should be talking to?


  1. Calling all Q members who have an interest in any of the following: addressing health inequalities, community support work, the voluntary sector, cancer, long-term conditions service design, service evaluation, co-production.

    If you  can suggest ways to support or improve our proposal - we'd love to hear from you!

    Thank you!

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