BT today announced a massive campaign to help more than 250,000 of its people to protect themselves from cancer.
Following on from BT’s other popular Work Fit programmes, Health & Fitness and Positive Mentality, the company hopes to help its 108,000 current employees across the globe and 176,000 BT pensioners to reduce the risk of developing cancer by making small changes to their lifestyle.
An amazing 40 per cent of cancers, which currently affect 25 million people worldwide, are preventable through giving up smoking, making changes to diet and avoiding over-exposure to the sun.
BT’s Work Fit: Cancer and You campaign, supported by the Communications Workers Union, Connect and the charity Cancerbackup, will run for six weeks and involve online articles and roadshows across the world, as well as interactive displays at the launch event. It follows the company’s previous employee campaigns on exercise, giving up smoking and mental health.
BT decided to act in order to provide its past and present workforce with the information to consider changing their lifestyle and be able to spot early signs of different cancers, which is vital in surviving breast, prostate, colon and skin cancer in particular.
Around 2,000 of BT’s employees have had cancer but have successfully been able to come back to work. However, another five are diagnosed with a form of cancer every week.
An ageing population means that the rate of annual cancer cases globally is expected to rise by 50 per cent by 2025. Even before an explosion in cases, one in three of us will suffer from cancer at some stage in people’s lives. The disease is so prevalent that everyone will come into contact with it either personally or through a friend, relative or colleague. Part of the BT campaign focuses on giving line managers advice on how to support a colleague who has cancer.
Dr Paul Litchfield, OBE, BT’s chief medical officer, said: “Cancer is one of the biggest health issues facing us in the world today and over the next two decades.
“Lifestyle factors have a significant role to play in the prevention and early detection of cancer so we need to help our people take responsibility for their health at home and at work.
“BT takes pride in the way it supports people who develop chronic illnesses but we want to go beyond that and help them avoid ill health in the first place so they can lead happier and more productive lives.”
Joanne Rule, Cancerbackup chief executive said the charity is delighted to support BT in its latest campaign: “Being informed is vital, both in terms of knowing how to reduce your risk, but also when you or someone close to you has been diagnosed. We believe this campaign will help improve the lives of BT people and make them aware of the information, understanding and support that Cancerbackup can provide if they need it.”
Jeannie Drake, CWU deputy general secretary, said: “The CWU is proud to be actively involved and engaged in supporting BT’s Work Fit programme, of which the Cancer and You campaign is part. It is an excellent initiative which seeks to help BT employees minimise their risk of cancer and deal with cancer in the workplace.”
Adrian Askew, general secretary of Connect, said: “Cancer in the workplace is a major issue. We are pleased BT is working with Connect to find ways of supporting its people to reduce their cancer risk and encourage early detection for more successful treatment”.