Sunderland support group unveils new awards to help in skin cancer battle

Elaine Taylor, left, and Kerry Rafferty, right, present Jessica Taylor, from Tiny Acorns Dance and Baby Massage, with her certificate as other workshop participants watch.
Elaine Taylor, left, and Kerry Rafferty, right, present Jessica Taylor, from Tiny Acorns Dance and Baby Massage, with her certificate as other workshop participants watch.

A support service has launched a new series of award schemes to help prevent skin cancer.

MelanomaMe was formed in Sunderland two years ago by Kerry Rafferty and Elaine Taylor after 39-year-old Kerry fought melanoma, which is a form of skin cancer, in 2015.

From left, Gillian Robson, from Tancream, is presented with her certificate by Kerry Rafferty.

From left, Gillian Robson, from Tancream, is presented with her certificate by Kerry Rafferty.

Since then the pair and their team of fully-trained counsellors have educated thousands of people about how to both prevent the illness and detect it by holding workshops with leading regional employers such as HMRC, BT and Barclays.

Now they are extending their work with awards for different types of organisations or professions.

The Skin cancer Prevention in Families (SPF) five-star schemes are aimed at the likes of schools, universities, sports coaches, podiatrists and beauticians.

While about 2,000 people nationwide die from melanoma each year, it is also one of the more avoidable forms of the illness, with about 90% of cases judged to be preventable.

Warning signs can include abnormal new moles, moles with more than one colour or an area of skin turning dark.

Kerry, from Washington, added: “People such as beauty therapists or people working in sport can often be the eyes and ears to spot the signs early because they will see people close up.

“We have also started going out to schools to speak to both staff and parents so they can be aware of what to look for and how to prevent it.

“Eventually we want people to treat wearing sun cream as normal as brushing your teeth.”

One of the people to attend a workshop recently was reflexologist Sarah Hunt, who runs RoseBud Holistics, in Whitburn, and who said: “As part of my job I am looking at people’s feet and perhaps parts of their feet that they do not see themselves every day.

“So knowing about what warning signs to look for such as size, shape and colour of moles will help me to help them.

The workshops are held at MelanomaMe’s headquarters at the SES Co-op Centre, in Whitehouse Road, Hendon, Sunderland, with counsellors travelling to schools to speak to staff and parents.

The school visits and an upcoming care in the community award will be free with a small cost asked of other groups to help sustain the not-for-profit company’s ongoing work.

Further details about the SPF awards are available by telephoning (0191) 5111391 or by logging on here.