Last week the Virgin Money London Marathon charity of the year, Heads Together, released a series of ten films exploring the benefits of speaking openly about mental health. It’s spearheaded by some rather familiar faces, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. The charities aim is to end stigma around mental health and change the conversation on mental health once and for all.
You can watch the films, and find out loads more about the campaign, by following the charity on Twitter @heads_together and using the hashtag #oktosay.
We wish everyone taking part in the Virgin Money London Marathon lots of luck, no matter which charity they are running for!
In September I visited the Suffolk Oxygen Therapy Centre in Great Blakenham where they held their open day to celebrate the purchase of their new building.
Currently they operate out of a porta cabin but are moving into a large warehouse with two floors which will give them more room for two oxygen units, and the upstairs they have room to convert one area into three therapy rooms and the other into an office.
It was also very enlightening for me personally to see how the oxygen units work and the benefits this has on the lives of people affected by MS. I spoke with many of their clients who said they felt energised after coming out of the chamber and were able to be very active for the rest of the day without feeling tired.
Many people visited for the day and there was a good atmosphere with a tombola and raffle.
MS-UK had a stand which was situated in the main area next to the two large tables full of homemade cakes and jam…yummy!
It was a busy day with lots of enquiries about Josephs Court and lots of people took leaflets about our work.
Centre Manager, Josephs Court
On the evening of 17 July our very own Ryan from the MS-UK Helpline attended and supported an evening run by Julie Webster and Helen Willis, the MS nurses from Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford and three of the local MS Society branches. In this blog, Ryan tells us all about it…
It was really good to be working together with the Local MS community, MS clinical services and the MS Society. We always enjoy these partnership events and hope that there will be many more to come.
The event was aimed at people who had attended a ‘Getting to Grips’ course in the last few years. The Getting to Grips course is a valuable introduction to all things multiple sclerosis for people who are newly diagnosed. The content of the original course usually includes connecting people to the local MS community and MS clinical services, and gives talks and information on symptom management, diet, lifestyle, welfare rights and employment issues. Many of the local MS Society branches run courses either the same (or very similar in nature) which are tailored to a specific area. If you are newly diagnosed with MS and want to know if there is a ‘Getting to Grips’ course running near you, contact your local MS Society branch.
The session I attended was an informal follow up bringing prior participants together to gain further information and support. There were approximately 50 people in attendance who were a mix of people with MS, family members, friends and allies. The evening had a strong emphasis on self-management, wellness, lifestyle and diet.
There was a presentation from a local man living with MS that gave a personal perspective about living well with secondary progressive MS, he talked openly and honestly about his journey so far, sharing the things that he has tried over time and the strategies he uses now to self-mange his symptoms.
I then spoke about ‘Exercise and Wellness’, giving information on the proven benefits of exercise for people with MS, the types of exercise and activity that people can do, tips on getting exercise right and how to access support locally. I also talked about ‘wellness’ and the importance of having a holistic approach, ensuring that consideration has been given to physical, mental, social and emotional wellbeing.
To highlight the importance of this holistic approach, which thankfully many clinicians and MS professionals are now taking on board, I spoke about the ‘MS Brain Health’ Initiative. The MS Brain Health initiative is an international partnership of clinicians and organisations calling for change in the management of MS. The initiative has emerged from a new evidence-based international report that recommends strategies to increase lifelong ‘brain health’. The strategy gives tips for ‘six ways to a brain-healthy lifestyle’ which very much reflects the holistic approach to gain a better quality of life in the longer term. I also talked about MS-UK’s wellness studio Josephs Court and the range of support on offer to support people with a neurological condition in Essex.
The group then had talks that gave further personal perspectives of living with the effects of MS. We heard from a family member, who spoke from the heart and gave an open and frank insight into the shared journey that families undertake after a diagnosis of MS, as well as an incredibly inspirational story about one man’s mission towards fitness post diagnosis, which included cycling from Essex to the south of France! It was great to hear from people living life to the full.
Overall the evening was incredibly interesting with the great outcome of connecting members of the MS community, giving insights into living with MS and ensuring people had up to date and trusted information.