John Taylor Hospice is located in Birmingham, where 12% of their local community have an African, Caribbean or mixed race heritage.
One in every four black men in the UK will be diagnosed with prostate cancer – double the overall risk faced by all men.
Knowing that early diagnosis is the key to survival, the hospice decided to do something to raise awareness of prostate cancer among its community – and the Benjamin’s Brothers campaign was born.
CEO Kate Phipps explains: “Benjamin’s Brothers is about making sure sons can outlive their mothers and children will know their fathers and grandfathers. If we are there at the beginning we won’t need to be there at the end.”
To help demonstrate what to look out for, and ensure prostate cancer is caught early, the hospice decided to source a prosthetic bottom to use during workshops and roadshows. The bottom allows people to feel for themselves the difference between a ‘normal’ and an ‘enlarged’ prostate.
A new bottom for Birmingham
However, they encountered a problem: “When we came to buy the bottom for our roadshows, we discovered that they only come in pink! We need our bottoms to be culturally appropriate. This means we need to commission a new bottom for Birmingham,” explained Director of Community Investment Sally Xerri-Brooks.
Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, which raised the £3,000 in record time, the hospice can now order the customised prosthetic rubber bottom.
Sallys adds that they have been delighted with the response to their campaign: “What we didn’t know was how much this campaign would fire up enthusiasm in the city. We hoped it would and believed it would and the fact that we have raised the total so quickly shows how much local people, community groups and companies in Birmingham share our passion for early detection and treatment.”
Benjamin’s Brothers is the latest health initiative from John Taylor Hospice which became an independent social enterprise in 2011.
CEO Kate commented: “People tell us that they trust John Taylor Hospice and we believe we can repay that trust by intervening before the journey starts as well as being there at the end.
“The hospice has delivered big changes for patients in the two-and-a-half years since it became independent. We want to make sure we keep the best evidence in mind and constantly listen to what patients and staff tell us.
“We are not afraid to ‘think big’ or ‘think differently’ where we understand the prevalence and pattern of a disease in our community. Benjamin’s Brothers is one way that we want to make this happen.”
Benjamin’s Brothers has been supported by many high profile public figures including respected church leaders and community activists as well as Birmingham poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah, who donated signed books and CDs as gifts for people who pledged money.