Big Bus makes a big difference in Derry

�/Lorcan Doherty Photography June 13 th 2013. ''Mandatory Credit Lorcan Doherty
�/Lorcan Doherty Photography June 13 th 2013. ''Mandatory Credit Lorcan Doherty

The Action Cancer Big Bus has been a huge success, bringing its hi-tech breast screening facilities and cancer prevention initiatives to communities in every corner of Northern Ireland, especially where cancer incidence is high and the uptake of traditional screening services is low. For this reason it spends a lot of time in Derry.

The charity says that partnerships with local community groups helps deliver crucial, life-saving Big Bus services to as many people as possible in the city. T

Such partnerships see Action Cancer bring its Big Bus mobile unit, whose main sponsor is SuperValu, to health events run by Galliagh Womens’ Group and the Ballymagroarty Hazelbank Community Partnership. A total of 22 Big Bus visits have been made to events organised by the two Derry community groups in the past 6 years.

Over the 22 visits the Action Cancer Big Bus team have screened 336 women for breast cancer. 58 women were referred for further tests after attending mammography sessions, utilising the latest digital screening technology.

Outlining the value of the service, Marie Gillespie, chairperson of Galliagh Women’s Group, said; “Cancer, as a major health issue, is an important focus for us. The Action Cancer Big Bus is such a wonderful community resource that helps us target that area of need within the local area.”

“In 1998 Galliagh Womens’ Group first got in touch with Action Cancer to invite the charity to send its old mobile unit along to a women’s health event.

“Since the Big Bus was launched in 2006 we have booked it around three times a year, in order to address health concerns and to provide screening services to women who, of their own admission, would otherwise not have attended for traditional screening.”

Roxanne Nixon from Ballymagroarty Hazelbank Community Partnership added; “The Action Cancer Big Bus is now a very important element of that work.”

As well as offering digital breast screening for women aged 40-49 and over 70, the Big Bus brings with it a host of cancer prevention and health promotion services including MOT health checks that cover things like body composition analysis, advice on weight loss, and blood sugar, cholesterol and lung capacity tests.

Big Bus Co-ordinator Sean Conlon explained; “The Big Bus works so well because it brings these services right to the doorsteps of people. This means it’s a bit easier for them to come along for a short appointment, minimising the need for time off work and childcare arrangements. Partnerships with other community groups, like Galliagh Womens’ Group and Ballymagroarty Hazelbank Community Partnership, are a key part of what we do and help us reach the people who need us most.”

The Big Bus is sponsored by retailer SuperValu. SuperValu Shantallow owner Declan Corry said; “Like Galliagh Women’s Group and Ballymagroarty Hazelbank Community Partnership we believe in and support what Action Cancer does with the Big Bus, namely bringing life-saving services to the heart of Derry. “That’s why we regularly book it to come to the store, so that customers and staff can use the facilities. People are always so generous when we are raising money for the unit.”