Beating bowel cancer together

The BeWEL project

BeWEL is a project that aims to reduce the risk of people developing bowel cancer by using volunteers to help them to lose weight and become more active. The programme is funded by the Scottish Government, and undertaken by The University of Dundee in conjunction with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Tayside, and Bowel Cancer UK.

BeWEL is a free, personalised programme designed to support people to make small but important changes to their lifestyle. The three-month programme is aimed, particularly, at people who have had polyps removed as there is evidence that a healthy diet, increased physical activity and weight loss can reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer. Participants are paired with Volunteer Life Coaches and have face to face visits plus telephone appointments, take their weight and encourage the keeping of food and activity diaries.

The programme involves volunteer Life Coaches in Greater Glasgow and Tayside supporting people living in these areas of Scotland to reduce their risk of developing bowel cancer. Life Coaches offer simple tips to increase participants’ physical activity, encourage them to sign up to nearby walking groups and leisure centres, give guidance on portion sizes and calories, and set them attainable goals and most importantly, be there to support, motivate and inspire them. All resources provided to those taking part in the programme are free of charge.

Staff at endoscopy units in Ninewells Hospital, Perth Royal Infirmary, Vale of Leven Hospital, Royal Alexandra Hospital and Gartnaval General Hospital are now active in informing patients about the opportunity to take part in BeWEL. Patients with familial risk of bowel cancer attending the East of Scotland Regional Genetics Centre at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee are also being informed about the programme.

Research shows that around half (54%) of all bowel cancers could be prevented by having a healthier lifestyle, such as being of a healthy weight, taking more exercise, cutting down on alcohol and stopping smoking.

Claire Donaghy, Head of Scotland for Bowel Cancer UK, says: “This exciting new project empowers people living in Greater Glasgow and Tayside to take small steps to reduce their risk of bowel cancer with the support of a trained volunteer.”

Read how taking part in BeWEL changed Colin's and Elizabeth's lifestyle here.

If you would like more information about the BeWEL project contact Catherine Watson, BeWEL Project Assistant for Scotland, on or 0131 281 7345.

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