Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is embarking on a cervical screening roadshow of the Western Isles from February 1st to 11th.
South Uist-born Iona Stoddart leads the charity’s West of Scotland team and will be visiting five islands in order to raise awareness of potentially life-saving cervical screening and how it prevents cervical cancer.
Across Scotland, cervical screening attendance rates are low with the national average at 73.1%, meaning that 1 in 4 women do not take up their invitation, and this is even more pronounced among women aged 25-29.
This figure increased slightly in 2019 across most Health Boards, however in the Western Isles attendance fell.
In response, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is spending 10 days in the Western Isles in order to raise awareness of the importance of cervical screening in preventing cervical cancer.
This is the first time the charity will visit this part of Scotland. Cervical screening prevents 75% of cervical cancers from developing, but it’s not always easy to attend a test.
There can be many barriers preventing women from attending such as fear, embarrassment and not understanding what the test is for.
In rural and close-knit communities, there can be additional and specific barriers which the West of Scotland team at Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is working to understand and overcome.
The team will visit five of the six islands, holding awareness stalls and attending community events.
They will also be helping to train healthcare professionals who take cervical screening samples.
They will be available to answer questions about all aspects of cervical cancer, including the HPV vaccination, cervical screening, signs and symptoms of cervical cancer and how women can reduce their risk of the disease which currently claims two lives every day across the UK.
Visitors to the roadshow will also be able to access health information, find out about local health services and have a more in-depth private conversation on the charity’s free, confidential Helpline.
Iona Stoddart said: “We are so pleased to be coming to the Western Isles to talk to women and understand the local issues which present barriers to attending cervical screening, as well as the ways in which these can be overcome.
“It’s not always easy to attend a cervical screening appointment but we hope to bust myths, answer questions, allay fears and concerns and ultimately help more people to attend a cervical screening appointment, leading to more lives saved.”
Sat 1st Feb: Isle of Benbecula, Awareness stall in Sgoil Lionacleit
Mon 3rd Feb: Isle of North Uist, Drop in at Eaval Cancer Support Group
Tuesday 4th Feb: Isle of Barra, Awareness stall in Castlebay Community School, Drop in at Mums n Tots
Wednesday 5th Feb: Isle of Lewis, Awareness stall in Western Isles Hospital, Drop in at Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative
Friday 7th Feb: Isle of Harris, Awareness stall in North Harris Health Hub