I became a volunteer with Prostate Cancer UK only
recently. After my husband died from prostate cancer in 2011, I
knew that I wanted to do something to help raise awareness, so that
more men would avoid the late diagnosis that led to his death. I
did my speaker training earlier this year, and resolved to take any
suitable opportunity to become involved.
When the call came for volunteers to work alongside charity
staff at one of the party conferences this autumn, I was delighted
to be involved. I was very well supported in preparation, with
documentation and telephone conversations. Our aims for the
conferences were to raise awareness and get politicians to sign up
to the Quality Checklist,
drawn up to support the establishment of UK-wide comprehensive
standards of care for men affected by prostate cancer.
Lib Dem Conference
I attended the Lib Dem conference in Glasgow for two and a half
days. I must confess to being a little nervous, in spite of the
excellent support. I had never been to a political conference, so
my only image was what we all see on television news, of speeches
in a conference hall. In fact, all the exhibition stands are in a
separate hall, and there was a wide variety: politically linked
groups; commercial companies; charitable organisations. In
addition, a number of catering outlets kept us all fed and
We had a table football game available for anyone who fancied
their chances, linking to our partnership with the Football League. This proved very
popular, bringing out the competitive streak in many of those who
played – especially the politicians. The leader board was keenly
I had a really interesting and instructive time. Charity
colleagues were friendly, helpful, supportive and encouraging. My
main contribution was talking to people who came to the stand,
handing out information and answering questions.
A number of things stood out. One very encouraging aspect was
the obvious interest, from men and women, across the age range. Our
leaflets were popular, and the Prostate Cancer UK pin badge
became a must-have item, especially as the days passed and more
people wore them in the conference hall.
The other particularly striking aspect was the number of people
who came to the stand who had personal experience of prostate
cancer, or were aware of others affected by it. Several commented
on the need to raise awareness with men and women - especially
Staff colleagues were very good at ‘netting’ politicians to come
to the stand, support the Quality Checklist, pose for photographs
and perhaps play table football. This was impressive because there
were rarely more than a few minutes to make the case. But it wasn’t
just MPs; we also had visits from MEPs, MSPs, prospective MPs,
peers and councillors.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. If another opportunity
arises, I’ll be near the front of the queue!