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Cancer charity failing black men claims campaigner

SURVIVOR: Poet Linton Kwesi-Johnson has spoken publicly about being diagnosed with prostate cancer

THERE IS growing concern that millions raised by the Movember Foundation through its many fundraising initiatives are not reaching charities which support black men.

Ali Orhan of the charity Cancer Equality has complained that Prostate Cancer UK (PCUK) is not investing enough resources in African Caribbean communities.

The health equality campaigner pointed out that the Movember Foundation disbursed some £15m from a total of £22 million raised for testicular and prostate cancer to PCUK in 2011.

This is after the annual month-long awareness campaign, which started in Australia, asking men to grow moustaches throughout November in exchange for sponsorship.

However, only a very small amount of these funds have reached charities which cater to black men who stand a greater chance of developing prostate cancer, claimed Orhan.

“African Caribbean men are three times more likely to get prostate cancer, and they [PCUK] publicly promote this in their literature, but very little work has been done with the community – if any,” Orhan told The Voice.

“They’ve expanded considerably as a charity, their staff has increased by about 200 percent – but they’ve not created a specific role or projects for the African Caribbean community,” he added.

The 48-year-old, who has worked in the charitable sector for most of his professional life, said he felt he had a responsibility to question how larger charities, which benefit from millions in donations, spend and allocate their money.

“As a member of that community, I just think that questions need to be asked,” he said.
One prominent member of the community who has spoken up about the disease he survived is poet Linton Kwesi-Johnson.

Orhan also criticised what he called a “closed process” of how the Movember Foundation selects the charitable organisations which benefit from funding.

“There was no tendering process,” Orhan claimed. “They [Movember] selected this charity and they continue to fund it year in, year out. What it doesn’t do is allow smaller organisations that work specifically with African-Caribbean communities – like Cancer Equality UK – to benefit, they don’t get a look in at all. So it’s only right, as smaller charities, we question the big charities with the big pots of money that are supposedly doing this work, but there’s no evidence of it,” he said, before adding funds “should be proportionately given to those who have a greater need of awareness and services around prostate cancer.”

But PCUK’s chief executive Owen Sharp has rejected Orhan’s claims.

He said: “We are very keen to work with organisations like them to reach men in communities at an increased risk.”

According to Sharp, “we do invest heavily in services for men with prostate cancer, including in African Caribbean communities. Almost half of our income will be ploughed into improving services next year.”

The PCUK CEO emphasised that “increasing awareness in African Caribbean men of their increased risk of prostate cancer is one of our key priorities, and we are committed to ensuring we achieve this, though a variety of bespoke projects, driven by the African Caribbean community itself.”

A walk-in clinic PCUK delivered in partnership with Newham Primary Care Trust at the Newham African Caribbean Resource Centre ended in November 2011.

PCUK said it had created a new role to focus on awareness work in the BME community.
It also had a list of initiatives scheduled to start in the new year.

A spokesperson for the Movember Foundation said: “The funds raised in the UK are directed to programmes run directly by Movember and our beneficiary partners.

“We work with these partners to ensure that Movember funds are supporting a broad range of innovative, world-class programmes in line with our strategic goals in the areas of awareness and education, survivorship and research.

Responding to Orhan’s concerns over its tendering process, the spokesperson said: “Movember’s Programme Office consults with local experts and invests a significant amount of time and effort into selecting the right partner.”

They added: “The selection of these partners is incredibly important and Movember takes that responsibility seriously, making sure that in each case they are the best organisation in their country.”

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