Furness College of Further Education, Barrow-in-Furness, hosted the CARDS 2012 Action Mesothelioma Day (AMD) event at the end of a term during which there had been a special focus on asbestos hazards and health. Members of CARDS, college staff and students and members of the public attended the meeting.

Barrow residents bear sad witness to the tragic legacy of massive quantities asbestos that was used in the past in the town’s renowned shipbuilding and heavy engineering industries. Barrow has the highest incidence of mesothelioma in men in England: 5 to 6 times the national average number of cases for the population of Barrow are diagnosed each year.

Acknowledging this particularly local problem, students at the college were given additional teaching about asbestos hazards during the summer term and invited to participate in a poster competition with prizes being awarded on AMD. Twenty posters were received, many of them very eye-catching and informative. CARDS sponsored 2 prizes for promotional material about our support organisation and IBAS sponsored 2 prizes for awareness-raising about asbestos hazards.

Some of the prize winning entries are shown in the CARDS AMD 2012 Powerpoint presentation available to download here. There is no doubt that students, particularly those in the construction, engineering and health departments, are much better informed about the continuing risks of asbestos as a result of this activity.

Action Mesothelioma Day was also the date on which CARDS – Cumbria Asbestos-Related Disease Support – was launched. CARDS has evolved from BARDS (Barrow Asbestos-Related Disease Support) which began in 2005. CARDS is simply extending the coverage of services to all Cumbria and north Lancashire. This is partly because at last, thankfully, the number of cases in Barrow is falling, and also to ensure that more people will be able to access our support services.

As part of the launch we had the first showing of the CARDS DVD – produced by the college creative media students and now available to view on youtube: http://youtu.be/cqGux0Lh8H8 .

Four local people contributed to this DVD by recounting their own experiences of asbestos-related diseases.

Special thanks are due to those at Furness College who supported this initiative and our AMD event: the Principal, Anne Attwood, Brian Bibby (Construction), Jonny Williams (Creative Media), and Ann Brown ( Health), plus Gail Sheldrick who was very helpful in making it all run smoothly on the day.

Helen Clayson, Chair, CARDS