Breast Cancer UK offers volunteers the chance to proactively help to reduce people’s risk of breast cancer By Nikki Mattei, Breast Cancer UK Ambassador Project Manager

Breast Cancer UK launched its Ambassador Project in 2016 with funding from The Big Lottery Fund.  Our ambassadors are available to give talks and presentations to companies, clubs and events and aim to help people reduce their risk of breast cancer.   One year on, the programme has been a great success and the charity is looking to increase its reach and impact.   
A real need for prevention
It is predicted that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer at some point in their lives.  55,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every year and incidence rates have more than doubled since records began in 1971.
In recent years, breast cancer awareness has become enormously visible – most people know that they should be checking their breasts and know that they should report any changes to their doctor.  However, there is not always high awareness about breast cancer risk factors and, importantly, what action can be taken to reduce your risk. 
The Ambassador Project was launched to address this – and to help raise awareness of the risk factors for breast cancer.  We also wanted to show people that there are simple things anyone can do in their daily lives to reduce their risk.  We knew that the best way to get these messages across was talking to people in their communities face-to-face.
Since June last year, we have recruited and trained 20 volunteer Ambassadors and our community of ambassadors continues to grow. 
Therisk factors for breast cancer are many.  It is known that alack of exercise, being overweight, having a family history, alcohol consumption and various medications such as HRT for example are directly linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.  
There is growing scientific evidence to suggest that a group of chemicals knowns as Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) present in our environment and used in many everyday products may also increase our risk of the disease.   Breast Cancer UK aims to raise awareness of these chemicals, campaigns for universal measures to reduce our exposure and supports scientific research so that we better understand their role in breast cancer.   
A positive message
One of the key aspects of the Breast Cancer UK Ambassador Project is that the whole tone and approach is one of positivity.  The steps shared for reducing risk are simple things that anyone can do in their everyday lives.
Too many messages about cancer use fear as the motivator for people to take action. Breast Cancer UK want to show people that it is really enjoyable to lead a natural, healthy lifestyle with a good quality diet, enjoyable exercise and opting for safer natural choices.  If you are not living this kind of lifestyle, you are actually missing out!  Plus you will enjoy the benefits of being happier and healthier.
You can get a feel for this message in our short film
A volunteering opportunity which can change someone else’s life and yours too
We all want to prevent breast cancer, to prevent the agony that is felt when one of our close friends or family is diagnosed,  and whilst we are glad to see more women surviving breast cancer, we would all rather none of them had to go through it in the first place.  
Breast Cancer UK Ambassadors are offered the chance to help make this a reality.  The charity provides full training on the known and suspected risk factors for breast cancer.  Ambassadors will be fully equipped with guidance, leaflets and publications to help them deliver their message.   
As well as sharing information, our Ambassadors can become part of a growing community of people who are not prepared to accept that breast cancer is inevitable, but that we can take action to reduce our risk.    In doing so, we hope that breast cancer incidence rates will eventually start to fall. 
Join us
If this type of volunteering opportunity is appealing – why not contact me.  Fill in a form and I’ll get in touch to arrange an informal chat about the programme.    Don’t delay our next Training Day is on 8 July!  Find out more here.
Thanks to our guest blogger Nikki - let's give this our full support