Sadly in the UK, one in two people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and around 1 million people of working age, currently have cancer. Given the significant number of people affected (including many thousands of carers and family members), this is a hugely important issue for the Civil Service and one in which we quickly need to build capability and confidence.
Many people don’t realise that cancer is recognised as a disability: this is from the point of diagnosis and for the rest of that person’s life (including where there is no evidence of disease). In addition people diagnosed with cancer, often have life changing and lifelong conditions and disabilities caused by the cancer, treatment or medication they are then required to take as part of their 'new normal'.
So, it’s vital we support managers and organisations to make best use of inclusion policies (such as workplace adjustments) and the benefits of good communication plans with regular reviews.
Our award-winning Civil Service Working Through Cancer Network now has representatives from more than 30 departments and agencies, and is leading the way to ensure the Civil Service is Confident about Cancer. New departmental level networks are launching every few months, and most recent additions include Government Legal Department, Department for Education, and Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.
Our main offer includes: buddy groups; line manager confidence and capability building sessions; and a one-stop-shop for advice and support. In addition we host Civil Service wide events on important topics such as “Know Your Blood Type” (which have created more than 800 new Civil Servant blood donors) and “Lifting the Lid off Cancer in BAME Communities”.
On World Cancer Day on 4th February, we held our first ever UK and Overseas Confident about Cancer day with a series of events and activities to reduce the taboo of talking about cancer in the workplace. We will host the second of these annual events in February 2021.
We are pleased to have recently joined the Civil Service Disability Network as a sub-group and look forward to seeing what we can achieve together over the coming months.
For more information about the Working Through Cancer Network, please contact chairperson Seonaid Webb at seonaid.webb@Defra.gov.uk