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Kicking cancer fears to the kerb with Cancer Research UK


You never know what it’s like to have cancer until you get a diagnosis.


And when you also face obstacles like language barriers and cultural taboos around illness, it makes looking for symptoms and treatment just that extra bit difficult.


So alongside the 10GM Cancer & Inequalities Fund and Cancer Research UK, Afrocats led our Cancer Awareness programme over April and May 2024 to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of the ‘Big C’ for refugees and asylum seekers at Manchester’s People’s History Museum.


We take a holistic approach to supporting the sanctuary seeker community, and so while providing crucial and practical skills, the project also offered a space for creativity, fun, and emotional relief amidst participants’ difficulties dealing with Home Office processes, visas, and housing.



With the support of our facilitators, we successfully raised awareness around cancer using drama and roleplay, helping them change their minds around how cancer can be perceived.


Have a look at the clips below to see how they got on:





Digital animator Tobbs also documented participants’ learning through animation, helping us understand which information resonated and addressing challenges they faced such as language barriers, cultural differences, and mistrust of the healthcare system.


Take a look at the animations below:


English version:



Farsi version:



Here are some helpful things you can do in a medical setting to minimise issues if English is not your first language:


  • Prepare translated notes for appointment

  • Request the same doctor if they are suitable for your needs

  • Use translation apps like Say Hi


You can also find out the times to call your GP for same-day/emergency or routine appointments.


By the end of the project, there was a huge transformation in the way participants thought about cancer too.


Initially, everyone had the following words associated with cancer:


  • Death

  • Horrible

  • Afraid

  • Scary

  • Fear

  • Pain

  • Anger


This changed to words like:


  • Hope

  • Treatable

  • Calm

  • Curable

  • Survival


And everyone even made pledges towards their own health, such as exercising more, eating less red meat, avoiding drinking and smoking, and carrying out regular breast checks, which are all crucial steps that everyone can take to help avoid or catch cancer early.


Thanks to all our participants, partners, facilitators and funders – because of your support and hard work, Manchester has taken vital steps to preventing cancer for sanctuary seekers across the city.


To discover more about how our programmes helps vulnerable communities develop resilience in the face of adversity, visit the Our Work page.

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