Aware that many mental health users experience poor physical health, and may have a limited engagement with primary care services, and services that support their physical health - the Coping Through Football project is running a targeted health and wellbeing programme, as part of its delivery to users with mental health problems.
Keen to address key areas of men's health, the Coping Through Football project was quick to take up the opportunity of having a Prostate Cancer awareness session delivered by Errol McKellar.
Errol is a 56-year old car mechanic, who owns a garage in Hackney, and is often to be seen on TV and heard on the radio campaigning for better awareness of the disease. He offered a discount on a car service if male customers agreed to go to their GP for a check-up.
Errol openly and honestly told his story. He was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010, after being fed up with his snoring - his wife urged him to go to his GP. Errol shared the startling statistics that 1 in 8 men, and 1 in 4 black men, will be diagnosed with the disease, currently more men are dying from prostate cancer each year than women are from breast cancer. He explained that as only men have the prostate gland that it is a 'male only disease' and is the third most common cancer to die from, after lung and bowel cancer.
Inviting questions from the audience Errol was able to de-mystify the information about the disease, from what is the prostate, where you find it, to signs and symptoms of the disease. He outlined his work raising awareness and campaigning for routine screening in men. Errol explaining that prostate cancer is most common men in over 50, with a higher risk if there is a family history or being a black man.
Currently there is no national screening programme for men. Whilst women in the audience were able to confirm that they routinely attended NHS screening programmes for breast cancer and cervical cancer, few men in the audience were able to confirm that they routinely attended their GP.
Errol's key message was for men to 'go and get yourself checked out' especially if you are over 50 and that although women remain the main 'gatekeepers' for men's health, men need to take more ownership and better responsibility over their health. He explained they have a right to be checked and tested, and that they owe it to themselves and to others to raise awareness among their friends, families and communities.
Barbara Armstrong, Joint Lead OT and Social Inclusion Lead in Waltham Forest, said: "Coping Through Football works really hard to ensure that the health and wellbeing of our service users are looked after and it was great to hear Errol speak so passionately. Prostate cancer can affect 1 in 8 men and programmes like Errol's will hopefully help to ensure more men get themselves checked out."
Errol McKellar is organising a charity fundraiser at Leyton Orient’s Matchroom Stadium in which a Celebrity XI lead by himself will do battle with Martin Ling’s London Legends on May 27 in aid of Prostate Cancer UK and East Herts Mind Network.
The game will kick-off at 3pm and tickets cost £15 for adults, £10 for concessions and £5 for 3-16 year-olds.
Tickets go on sale on Monday March 26, for more information call 0871 310 883. Tickets are also available on the Leyton Orient website at: www.leytonorient.com
The Coping Through Football project is a collaboration between NELFT, the London Playing Fields Foundation (LPFF) and Leyton Orient Trust (LOT). The aim of the programme is to produce a sustainable recovery approach to engage with and improve the wellbeing of adults and young people experiencing mental health issues.
For more information about Coping Through Football, visit their website page at: www.nelft.nhs.uk/coping-through-football