Macmillan Cancer Support joins forces with London barbers to help more Black men find the words to talk about cancer


New analysis by leading cancer charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, reveals the reticence some Black men face when it comes to talking about their health and emotions as over a third (37%) have admitted they don’t like sharing their true feelings and one in four (25%) do not feel comfortable discussing things that worry them. With Black men twice as likely as white men to get prostate cancer and more likely to develop it at a younger age, feeling comfortable to open up about feelings and health concerns has never been more needed.

Helping more Black men find the words to talk about cancer, Macmillan has teamed up with training academy Hairforce 1 to create The Barbershop Project. This collective of London barbers are leading the way in breaking down taboos and normalising conversations about cancer within one of the cornerstones of the Black community – the barbershop.

Encouraging more conversations, the Barbershop Project has launched a three-hour mixtape produced by BBC Radio 1Xtra’s very own Seani B. The mixtape will be played in barbershops across London, furthering vital conversations about cancer. In between the reggae and afrobeats, the mixtape features two Macmillan storytellers sharing their experiences with prostate cancer and an exclusive message from global dancehall superstar and Grammy award-winning artist Sean Paul, encouraging Black men to proactively look out for symptoms of prostate cancer and to discuss any concerns with the GP.

The project is gathering momentum and support in the Black community across London including from Errol McKellar, an advocate for raising awareness of prostate cancer after his own diagnosis.

Errol says: “I know first-hand how isolating and overwhelming cancer can be and not enough men are talking about it. It is so important to me to use my experience to share my story and encourage men to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer early on.

“After my own cancer diagnosis, I ran a garage in East London where I started offering my male customers discounts on their MOTs if they spoke to their GP about their risk of cancer. Following that, 26 Black men went and got checked and as a result found out that they had prostate cancer. Two men sadly passed away but the rest are still alive and well today. I am keen to continue to do all that I can to carry on having these all-important conversations.”

Lee Townsend Macmillan Cancer Support’s Engagement Lead, who works closely with members of the Black community and support group says: “We hear day in and day out how cancer remains a taboo in some parts of the Black community, especially amongst men, with many feeling the need to bottle up their emotions and ‘stay strong’.

“What I love about our work with the Barbershop Project is that it has created a safe space for Black men to talk freely about cancer while letting them know they are not alone. The barbershop serves as an essential tool for often initiating the first open conversations about topics such as cancer, but there are also other ways to access support. There’s the Macmillan Support Line and the online community. Nobody with cancer should feel alone, whatever question you need to ask, we are here for you.”

Macmillan Cancer Support is doing whatever it takes to help people find the words to talk about cancer. It’s not easy to talk about cancer but it could help. Whatever questions people need to ask whether that be about work, money, life…Macmillan is at the end of the phone and online to provide support. Call 0808 808 00 00 or visit and ask anything.