Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month (PCAM) is nearly upon us! Our Campaigns and Policy Manager David is here to explain what awareness we'll be raising with politicians this November:
With Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month approaching it is a good time to take stock of how much progress has been made in raising awareness of the disease at a political level.
Thanks to the hard work of so many supporters we have now seen motions of support tabled and/or debates lined up for PCAM2014 in each of the UK’s Parliaments and Assemblies. This is the first time this has happened.
The motions are:
- Westminter Parliament: Early Day Motion (EDM) 386 tabled by Stewart Jackson MP – “Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month”. The motion also references the first World Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day on 13th November and Purple Lights for Hope on 1st November. EDMs are not debated but allow MPs to add their names and show support for the cause.
- Scottish Parliament: Motion for debate tabled S4M – 11107 tabled by Neil Findlay MSP – “Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month 2014”. The motion has achieved enough cross-party support to qualify for a debate, although this is not guaranteed. We hope we will see a debate take place though - the signs are positive.
- Welsh Assembly: Statement of Opinion, OPIN-2014-0312, tabled by Darren Millar AM – “Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month”. This is a Welsh Assembly version of an EDM and AMs can add their names to show support.
- Northern Ireland Assembly: Motion for debate on 3rd November 2014, tabled by Tom Buchanan MLA – “Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month”. A straight debate in the main Assembly Chamber with MLAs able to speak and share their constituents’ concerns. (Anyone not able to attend the debate in Belfast but wants to watch it should be able to do so via the BBC’s Democracy Live website.)
If you have not already done so please do ask your local representatives to add their names to the motions or take part in the debates. We have produced some template letters and provided links to help you find your Parliamentarians and Assembly Members on our campaign with us page of our website.
The PCAM motions are just the tip of the iceberg though – there has been much more political activity over the past 12 months. The highlight was perhaps Maggie Watts’ e-petition debate in Westminster in September, following the gathering of 106,000 signatures from around the UK. However, there have been other Westminster debates, Parliamentary questions and a separate EDM on pancreatic cancer research; questions in the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies; one-to-one and group meetings with Ministers, MPs, MSPs, AMs and MLAs; the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pancreatic Cancer in Westminster; and other Cross Party Groups in the devolved bodies starting to address pancreatic cancer.
And we know this is starting to pay off, as the Westminster Health Minister told the Commons that:
“Of all the debates on cancer that I have responded to in my time as a Health Minister, I have responded to debates on pancreatic cancer more than any other, so this subject is certainly not low on my radar and—I reassure hon. Members again—not the Government’s.”
This has only been possible because so many of you have contacted your elected representatives and explained to them why this issue is so important to you and to make the case for more action. Your efforts have made a real and tangible difference to the level of political awareness about pancreatic cancer around the country. Special mentions must be made of Kerry Irvine (NI), Linda Reardon (Wales), Kim Rowan and Andy Luck, (Scotland), and Maggie Watts (pretty much everywhere!) for taking a lead and making sure as many voices were heard as possible.
So, where do we go from here? The truth is, this level of activity is pretty difficult to top! We now need to make sure we maintain a level of awareness that will enable concrete policy changes in future. With charities and supporters working together we will try to do just that over the next 12 months.
If you're interested in campaigning with us this PCAM, find out more about how you can get involved.