Christine Hancock is the founder and CEO of C3 Collaborating for Health, one of our CAN Mezzanine – Borough customers. C3 shift the focus to prevention and wellbeing by addressing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors before people fall sick or need care. C3 believe that preventing these diseases requires Collaboration between all of society to focus on the 3 risk factors that impact NCDs: unhealthy eating and drinking, lack of physical activity, tobacco use.
1. Your typical day
Like most CEOs of small charities, I don’t do typical days!
Often I am off around London meeting people because one of the amazing things about C3 is the vast range of contacts we have. One day it can be about meeting a long haul flight attendant wanting us to bring the approach we take to nurses’ health to her colleagues who work long hours; the next day a multinational CEO who wants to introduce a better approach to health and wellbeing.
Sometimes I work at home in Camden Town and of course, there are times (always on a Tuesday) I can be found in our nice corner in CAN Mezzanine – Borough, on the 3rd floor.
2. You’re responsible for...
Encouraging my small team, who manage to make people think we’re a large organisation. One of my colleagues is based in Calgary in Canada, so our staff meetings can’t start before 16.00 (9.00 for Sarah when she’s got her 2 small daughters organised for the day).
I am also responsible for raising money and spreading our work trying to prevent the 4 dreadful diseases of our time, heart attacks and strokes, cancer, diabetes & COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). We try to find ways to make it easier for people to live healthily, in particular in some of the most deprived areas,
3. How do you feel working in C3 Collaborating for Health?
Most of the time I feel really lucky to be working with such nice people and for such a simple cause: helping people to quit smoking, be more physically active, and eat and drink better and less.
However, it does get frustrating as it is so much easier to get money to treat illnesses rather than prevent them.
4. Your greatest achievement
Sigma Theta Tau International recognised C3 with its globally-renowned award, the Archon Award, for exceptional leadership in advancing health in the world. Through this award, C3 joined the ranks of previous award recipients His Highness the Aga Khan, Save the Children, Dame Cicely Saunders and Dr Jonas Salk.
5. Your greatest challenge
Here we go again, it is money, money, money!
Most of all, our society knows how to prevent more than a quarter million deaths a year, but we do not! No country puts much money into prevention but we are all meeting bigger and bigger costs of treating the illnesses we could prevent. Not that it is really the cost that matters: these are really serious illnesses, diabetes alone causes most adult blindness, amputations, and kidney failure and yet we could prevent the 70% of these cases.
6. What have you learnt so far?
Most people know that it is good not to smoke, good to do something physically active (it does not have to be the gym, just try walking up the stairs at CAN or walking up the escalator) and eat a bit less with more vegetables. But most people find it hard to do.
We have not exactly built our environments to be health-promoting. That is one of C3’s programmes – working with local communities to identify barriers to healthy living in their neighbourhoods. The results can be surprising.
In one London borough, teenagers refused to play at a nearby park. When we asked why, they reported, ‘There are signs that say “No drugs or alcohol allowed.” That must mean drug dealers use that park. We do not want to play there.’: a sign that was meant to be helpful was instead inhibiting the use of the park.
7. Your plan B…
There can be NO plan B. Chronic disease is like climate change and some of the things are the same: eat less and especially eat less meat; walk and cycle, do not drive. We have a real problem in this country, but it is far worse in the resource-poor countries: they get these diseases earlier (as do the poorest in this country). There is a danger that India and China are going to pour money into first class hospitals for the few, but a prevention plan will provide enough money to help everyone.
8. Coffee or Tea?
I’m afraid I am a coffee snob and love my coffee at home (we buy the beans from a tiny shop in Camden which only sells beans) but I never buy coffee from these rip-off chains (McDonald's has the best coffee on the High Street) and at CAN there is good coffee from social enterprise, but it’s safer to drink tea which is hard to spoil!
9. Your favourite quote
Margaret Mead: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
10. Your inspiration
My years nursing are my inspiration, where I saw the ravages of illness. I am so energised to work to prevent these illnesses, especially in resource-poor countries where many cannot afford treatment. 80% of people with cancer have no access to morphine for their pain. Half the people with diabetes are not diagnosed and half of those have no access to treatment.
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