The Bloody Breast Partnership
Over the past year, we’ve been delivering menstrual, sexual and reproductive education sessions to refugees and asylum seekers who menstruate across England. Through our network of fantastic medical volunteers, Bloody Good Education responds to attendees’ wants and needs; providing relevant information on sexual and reproductive health and signposting them to relevant services.
During our sessions we get asked lots of questions - should I be worried about this? How do I talk to my child about this? Should I see a doctor about this? One question we have been asked repeatedly is “how do I check for breast cancer?”
Now, we cover a lot of topics in our education programmes but everything falls strictly below the belt (yes we’re talking vaginas and uteruses). So we knew we’d need to call on some expert advice to tackle an up-top topic like breast checking. Cue, CoppaFeel!
CoppaFeel! exists to educate young people in the UK on the importance of getting to know their boobs, pecs and chests and remind them to do it regularly! Through their education programmes and awesome website, CoppaFeel! aims to instil young people with the knowledge and tools they need to get to know their bodies. Just the experts we needed!
With 1 in 7 of those with vaginas being affected by breast cancer at some point in their life in the UK - we know it’s a key topic to cover. Especially because checking breasts regularly can help to spot unusual changes early and potentially save lives!
However, as CoppaFeel! has found, only 36% of women aged 18-35 years old check their boobs monthly. We know, that because asylum seekers and refugees are potentially even less likely to have access to this kind of information, the rate amongst these groups may be even lower.
From our education programmes, we know the people we work with often have poor uptake rates for NHS services, because of barriers such as fear, cultural and language barriers and limited awareness of the services available to them. This, compounded by the additional barriers to access the Covid pandemic has created, means many of the people we work with are not aware of how to check their boobs, or the support available to them if they find something worrying.
So we’ve teamed up with CoppaFeel! to encourage open dialogue on breast checking, reduce inequalities in access to this information and improve the overall access those we work with have!
Working together is at the essence of our programme. We know we provide the best support for those we work with when we collaborate with others, so we’re super excited to team up with CoppaFeel!. We know that those who attend our latest Bloody Good Education session will leave with all the information they need to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, check their chests regularly and know where to get help when needed. Our latest session has really shown that when we join forces with partners, we can empower each other with knowledge and information to tackle health inequalities head-on and create better outcomes for all!
Blog written by Terri Harris, BGP's Menstrual Sexual and Reproductive Health Manager. For more info on BGP's Education Programme, read here.
Illustrations made by Maria Solorzana (Twitter: @_myria | Insta: @myria.solr)