fit for work and life

Irish Cancer Society says community empowerment key to improving health and wellbeing

Society launches Fit for Work and Life programme evaluation report with participants eating better, exercising more and attending for screening as a result

The Irish Cancer Society has launched its evaluation report on its health and wellbeing programme, Fit for Work and Life (FFWL). The report was produced for the Irish Cancer Society by the National Centre for Men’s Health, Carlow Institute of Technology.

The report found significant improvements in participants’ eating habits, levels of physical activity and attitudes to cancer screening.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Kevin O’Hagan, Cancer Prevention Manager with the Irish Cancer Society said, “FFWL is a really important programme for the Society as it gets right into the heart of communities and empowers people to take control of their own health."

“We know that health can be negatively impacted by socio-economic factors and that people in disadvantaged communities have higher rates of cancer and poorer chances of survival. We also know that things like long term unemployment and poor quality housing are related to less healthy lifestyles. This programme recognises those inequalities and works with community partners to improve participants’ access to services and support. It promotes healthy behaviours, raises awareness of cancer prevention and enables them to make positive changes to their lifestyles."

“For example, the report found that participant awareness of steps to reduce cancer risk went from 19% to 95% and the number of people who said they would attend screening appointments went from 63% to 83%. These real results are delivered by working in partnership with other committed community organisations,” O’Hagan concluded.

Carol Hanney, CEO of the CDETB, added, “We are very proud to partner with the Irish Cancer Society on this programme, which effectively looks at health as a core skill for life. Many people who are out of the workforce for a while lose their self-esteem and doing courses such as FFWL give them the confidence to make positive changes in their lives and perhaps go on to do further courses.”

“Education is a vital part of moving people out of disadvantage and empowering them to make good choices in their lives. Health education has a central place in that because if allows us to educate people, but it also means we will hopefully prevent certain diseases, like cancer, happening at all.”

Dr. Noel Richardson, National Centre for Men’s Health, Carlow Institute of Technology, concluded, “The programme had a profound effect on participants health and wellbeing and created significant opportunities for partnership development and community capacity building that can form the bedrock for its future sustainability. This evaluation provides a very strong case for scaling up the Fit for work and life programme. “

Fit for Work and Life is aimed at young adults who may be unemployed or on low incomes and are participating in employability, social inclusion and other community-based adult education programmes. It is aligned with the Government’s Healthy Ireland Framework and addresses the goals of improving health outcomes and reducing health inequalities.

The programme is supported by the Medtronic Foundation through the Community Foundation of Ireland which promotes health at community level.

The full report can be downloaded at: