June-July 2019 | Articles

Champions Awards – Sarah Jane Minns and Donna Fitzpatrick

Champions Awards – Sarah Jane Minns and Donna Fitzpatrick

At the Rotary Conference & Showcase in Nottingham last month, the Champions Awards recognised outstanding humanitarian and community service conducted by volunteers from across Great Britain and Ireland.

The Champions Awards recognise individual heroes for projects at home or overseas.

Here, this year’s Champions write in their own words, about what their project means to them, what it entailed and how it has made a difference.

Author: Sarah Minns

Prostate cancer has become the number one cancer in men with 1 in 8 men being diagnosed with the disease.

It has overtaken breast cancer as the third most deadly form of the disease after lung and bowel cancer. Prostate Cancer UK reports that a total of 11,631 men died from prostate cancer across the UK in 2016.

With the support of Queen’s Hospital, Burton, and Burton Albion Football Club,

we have created an innovative health campaign designed to bring awareness about prostate cancer.

The Inspire Health: Fighting Prostate Cancer campaign, which has been running since early 2016, enables men to seek advice and get screenings in familiar surroundings rather than the clinical backdrop of a hospital.

The premise for the whole project was to raise awareness of prostate cancer within our local community.

This continues to be an important factor in our project and involves regular talks and information stands at various community settings.

Seeing patients and their loved ones come through the cancer journey, and realise that there is life after a cancer diagnosis, is by far the most rewarding aspect of this campaign for me.”

With the support of our local media we have managed to reach a much wider population due to the project being highlighted in the regional press and on prime time television.

The initial screenings began at Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium.

It is a perfect way of reaching a large number of the target group of men over 50+ who may not necessarily want to visit a GP’s surgery or a hospital, but rather be more open to a health initiative through their football club where they feel more receptive to the importance of getting a health check.

Since the campaign began, we have carried out clinics at community clubs, places of worship, Rotary clubs, Freemason lodges and local health centres.

Since 2016 we have held 23 prostate cancer clinics (on a voluntary basis) in addition to our daily medical roles at Burton Hospital.

Up until the end of March 2019, we saw 1811 men, of whom 61 were diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Since we started our campaign in 2016 the positive response from both our local community and further afield has been overwhelming.

We are regularly contacted by people who have had an experience of prostate cancer in their family and want to share their experience with us or by our current patients who want to thank us for the work we do.

Seeing patients and their loved ones come through the cancer journey and realise that there is life after a cancer diagnosis is by far the most rewarding aspect of this campaign for me.

There is no doubt that early diagnosis improves outcomes and getting men to seek advice early can only aid this.

Our project continues to grow as more people become aware of the work we do.

We receive weekly requests from various communities asking if we can undertake clinics for them.

We are currently in talks with a number of local industries discussing the possibility of screening their workforce.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with 47,000 men diagnosed every year. Knowing that men are reluctant to access these health services, Sarah and her colleague set up an innovative pop-up clinic at Burton Albion Football Club in Derbyshire to screen men for the disease.

Author: Donna Fitzpatrick

I have been an active volunteer with the Fullarton Community Association in Irvine, North Ayrshire, since 1987, progressing through the committee to becoming chairperson.

Our first community centre, or Green Hut as it is better known, was sourced from two different schools which were closing.

We then secured a wee bit of grass to place our huts on and North Ayrshire Council charged us a monthly rent.

The green hut served our community well, but unfortunately the building was condemned 2011. So we then tried to secure our site for a peppercorn rent of ÂŁ1.

Our dream has always been to secure our children’s future by having our own community centre. Although, at times, it was very frustrating, we never gave up.

My personal highlight was when the Big Lottery Fund granted us funding for a community consultation, as well as finances to draw up our community action plan.

This would allow us to demonstrate through community consultation what our community wanted.

Our dream has always been to secure our children’s future by having our own community centre. Although, at times, it was very frustrating, we never gave up.”

Irvine, which sits on the coast of the Firth of Clyde, is an area of high unemployment and deprivation. We strongly believed in our dreams to finance a purpose-built building which would be incorporated as a thriving hub. This was eventually opened in 2017.

We now have several partners including a doctors’ surgery and employability hub, an Information Technology suite, Money Matters, confidence-building courses, North Ayrshire Piping and Drumming Academy, Enable, Skills Development Scotland and Fair Start Scotland.

The future is looking very bright.

We have built a full-sized multi-use games area, as well as a large community garden to teach people life skills and selfsustainability.

From this, we teach parents and children back-to-basic cooking skills.

Many of our elderly community are widowed and socially-isolated as families had moved away to secure employment.

With this is mind, I started to think how to integrate our elderly with young parents by promoting inter-generational workshops. So far, these have proved highly successful.

I have also delivered a Community Matters programme at weekends for children with sports activities, gardening and provision of a meal at the end of the activity, since there is no current provision for these children who would normally receive a free school meal through the school week.

I attended the assembly at our local school and asked the children what three activities they would like provided for them at our centre.

The response was phenomenal. I immediately started the Community Matters weekend programme of sports activities and cooking/baking, as these were the largest requested activities.

I want to continue to help my community to the best of my ability. I consider myself to be the lucky one as every day I see the positive changes in people.

It’s about helping them to believe in their own abilities and dreams, no matter what their background, encouraging them to be the best that they can be.

Donna has been a mainstay of the Fullarton Community Association for over 30 years. What started in the late 1970s with just a wooden hut as a temporary facility has grown into a thriving focal point for the community. In September 2017, the new, ÂŁ1.8 million Fullarton Community Hub was opened.

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