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Sunderland skin cancer counselling service helps protect homeless from sun

From left, MelanomaMe joint founders Elaine Taylor and Kerry Rafferty.
From left, MelanomaMe joint founders Elaine Taylor and Kerry Rafferty.

A skin cancer counselling service has offered advice and practical help to homeless people during the baking summer.

Wearside-based MelanomaMe has visited Newcastle to speak to rough sleepers about the importance of protecting themselves from UV rays and to provide sunscreen.

Working with Melanoma UK, a nationwide patient advocacy group, Kerry Rafferty, a joint founder of MelanomaMe, explains: “In the past 15 months we have been raising the profile of skin cancers and melanoma within schools, workplaces and the beauty industry.

"We wanted to expand our services to helping people who are hard to reach, some being men, carers and homeless people who are unfortunately overexposed to UV.

"We discussed our thoughts with Gillian Nuttall, from Melanoma UK, who believed in the project and has kindly supported us by making a donation, so that we can provide sunscreen and education for the homeless.”

Ms Nuttall, from Melanoma UK, said: “Melanoma kills 2,500 people every year so we are happy to assist anything that raises awareness and protects our vulnerable people.”

What is melanoma and how can MelanomaMe help you?

Andrew Burnip, director of Crisis Skylight Newcastle, which helps homeless people within the city, said: "Rough sleeping is incredibly dangerous at any time of year.

"But as temperatures continue to soar, exposure to harmful UV rays, as well as dehydration and heat exhaustion pose particular risks for those forced to sleep on the streets."

"We’re very grateful to MelanomaMe for advising our clients on the dangers of exposure to the sun and will continue to provide sun cream, hats and water to those in need.

Kerry, 40, from Washington, founded MelanomaMe with friend and joint managing director Elaine Taylor after fighting the illness herself in 2015,

While melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the United Kingdom, with around 13,500 new instances a year, nearly 90 per cent of cases are deemed to be preventable.

Now based at 15 Lowthian Terrace, in Washington, trained staff travel throughout the region to present advice workshops to leading employers such as HMRC, BT and Barclays.

Further information about MelanomaMe is available from (0191) 4174500 or online at www.melanoma-me.org.uk