This week, I’m introducing you guys to a charity that I’ve recently become involved with!
A couple of weeks ago, I came into contact with James & his wonderful charity, CATS.
The charity focuses on promoting awareness of cancer symptoms to young people, particularly students. As someone who had cancer as a teenager, I was keen to get involved to prevent other people being misdiagnosed like I was.
I caught up with James to find out more about his plans for CATS.
What is CATS all about?
We’re all about making sure young people know the common signs and symptoms of cancer. We encourage people to be familiar with their bodies and to keep an eye out for any signs that could indicate something is wrong. We encourage anyone who notices these signs to go and see their GP and share their concerns.
About 2,200 people between the ages of 15 -24 are diagnosed with cancer every year, hence the need to check things out.
We are based in different universities around the UK, and we focus our efforts into using new and innovative ways to get our message out. We are student led, as the best people to reach students are other students! We run events such as acoustic nights, comedy nights, pub quizzes, lectures, workshops and more, working with other student groups to get the message out to as many people as possible! We put out our material onto different social media platforms, and print onto things like beer mats as opposed to the more traditional leaflets.
So, where did CATS start?
CATS was founded in 2014 when I was at the University of Manchester & realized the lack of awareness about common signs and symptoms amongst students. I gathered a few friends together in a pub to chat about what could be done and CATS was born. Kicking off in Manchester in September 2014, CATS’ quickly signed up over 600 people who wanted to get involved and know more. Over the year, CATS Manchester ran several events with several attended by hundreds of students. It became clear that something about CATS was a bit different. CATS started to partner with Teenage Cancer Trust and set about looking to move to other universities around the country.
One year later CATS launched its second branch, at Cambridge University. This was followed by CATS London East launching in Sept 2016. CATS now runs a variety of events, from acoustic nights, to pub quizzes, from film showings to lectures, from comedy evenings to society battles (BGT style). This year we even developed a pioneering series of workshops, using current or former cancer patients, in order to train medical and nursing students on how to be better communicators.
And where is CATS headed?
We want to make sure every student and young person across the whole of the UK knows the common signs and symptoms of cancer and when to go and see their GP. The plan for the future is to launch another CATS site in 2016/2017. Following that, we hope to have CATS’ in 10 more universities over the next 5 years.
I’m really glad that I’ve discovered CATS & that I can help them spread their message – it’s an important one!