Radiotherapy and Me
Radiotherapy & Me was developed to raise awareness of radiotherapy and research taking place in Greater Manchester. Researchers and patients felt that there was low public awareness about radiotherapy compared to other treatments for cancer. Some patients had also reported that they hadn’t had enough information about the treatment and possible side effects, prior to having radiotherapy.
Researchers from Vocal at the University of Manchester initiated the project. They chose to work in Oldham to link with the Christie Hospital at Oldham and to prioritise an area where there is traditionally low participation in research. They partnered with Oldham Libraries because the library service has a strong interest in health and had run a wide range of inclusive creative projects.
The relationship with Vocal led to other mini projects and activities, eg. A small event in the library around hearing loss, and the library service are working with them again on an Ideas Fund project.
The project started by consulting patients who experienced radiotherapy, and members of the public who had no experience of it. These early conversations were important to gain understanding of people’s views and concerns as well as myths about the treatment. Two patient advisors with experience of radiotherapy were recruited to help the team develop the project and decide on the creative partner to work with.
Oldham Libraries promoted the project to a wide range of community, faith and cancer organisations. An informal drop in event was held in Oldham Library which brought researchers and people together to talk about the project and take part in a creative storytelling taster session.
The team recruited people from the event to take part in 6 creative workshops. People were encouraged to develop their stories in their own words, regardless of whether these were positive or negative experiences of treatment. Stories and artwork from the workshops were exhibited at Oldham Library.
The project raised awareness of radiotherapy and access to information about it. It also empowered people who had experienced radiotherapy to tell their stories and use them to support others going through a similar experience.
The staff member leading this project developed public speaking confidence and skills after taking part in the filming and speaking at the celebration event.
The high quality event at the end of the project gave the library service creative ideas for running engagement projects.
The Christie Hospital, Oldham