Long-Term Conditions are on the increase
The statistics for people with long-term conditions are increasing yet services and NHS capacity are decreasing. People’s health and well-being are in danger.
Having a long-term condition myself I know how hard it is; to come to terms with, to navigate the system, to understand who you are and where you belong, to get the right support, to focus on the positive things, for family & friends to know what to do, to have to cancel another night out, to give up work, to stop doing the things you once loved, the list could go on & on…
What can WE do?
If we do nothing then people will suffer. It’s as simple as that!
Could creativity be a solution?
What if we came together to share ideas, build a stronger community of support, make links with services and help people to discover their creativity? Sounds kinda simple but it worked for me. Luckily, not long after my diagnosis, I got involved with a project called ‘Good to Go’ a collaboration between Public Health and Grapevine Coventry & Warwickshire. Being involved with this project taught me many things, gave me back my confidence and helped me to find my purpose once again.
Feel Good started as a way to help me to focus on the things I could do rather than the things I couldn’t. It’s evolved into a community of like-minded people that like to come together to think about how we can increase happiness. Feel Good Com is at the start of a journey into discovering how creativity and community can impact a person’s health and wellbeing.
So much good stuff IS happening!
There is a wealth of research available on the internet. The National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing have put together have compiled an impressive list. This list is by no means a definitive guide to all the research available. They are on the lookout for more submissions.
Recently a report was published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing. The three key messages in this report are music to my ears:
- The arts can help keep us well, aid our recovery and support longer lives better lived.
- The arts can help meet major challenges facing health and social care: ageing, long-term conditions, loneliness and mental health.
- The arts can help save money in the health service and social care.
Have a look at the RSA’s short film about Health as a Social Movement or download their publication – The Power of People in Social Movements.
Be the change you wish to see in the world. Ghandi
Don’t wait till your health takes a turn for the worse like I did, introduce creativity into your daily routine. Write down all the things you enjoy doing, this can sometimes be hard so don’t worry if you struggle! Think back over your life, maybe it was things you did while you were at school, the things you did with family or friends.
Alternatively, think about the things you would like to try but just never had the time. There are lots of schemes and organisations that can help you learn a new skill. Helpful Peeps is an online community where people share their time, skills and knowledge to help each other for free.
Want to learn something new? Even if you don’t feel well enough to leave the house, thanks to the power of the internet you have thousands of tutorials to get your creative juices flowing. I regularly use YouTube and have also subscribed to Skillshare.
Skillshare is an online learning community where anyone can discover, take, or even teach a class. If you sign up here you can get two free months to try it before you subscribe. So far I have brushed up my Photoshop skills, learnt different hand lettering styles and explored my drawing style.
Get involved with a community
There is a huge online community of creatives who like to share their creations, their how-to videos and their inspiration. Instagram is a massive source of inspiration for me.
Likewise, many social movements have a strong presence on social media. So much inspiring stuff going on that addresses the needs of the community in a positive proactive way. Have a look at what is going on in your area, follow them and when you are feeling strong enough check out what they are doing in person. For me being involved with social action in my hometown of Coventry has helped me to thrive not just survive life with a Long Term Condition.
Whatever your condition there will usually be an online support group. Educating yourself about your condition is vital. Being part of the Tarlov Cyst UK Facebook group has helped me find people in a similar situation as me. We are a rare breed so I may not have found anyone with the same condition as me locally!
If you are on Facebook we have set up a Feel Good Ambassador group. We set this group up to help everyone connect and feel stronger together whatever life throws at us. Our aim is to create an inclusive community that works together to inspire each other to become Ambassadors for Feeling Good. We believe in taking a shared leadership approach so we encourage everyone to take the lead if there is something you would like to post, recommend or change please feel free to comment or get in touch. So long as it fits with a Feel Good Together ethos it is fine with us!
If you are near to Coventry and would like to get involved with the Feel Good community drop us a line and we will let you know what events we have going on.
Get involved with a social movement
I have not long started a new role as a Community Organiser for a local charity, based in Coventry, called Grapevine Coventry and Warks. They received funding from the Community Resilience strand of the Better Health, Better Care, Better Value Programme. We have used the same model that was used for #FeelGoodCom so we know the process works!
It is an extremely exciting post as I will be helping people to create their own social movements so we can combat the negative aspects of life with a long-term condition/disability. So if you have an idea or what to get involved with some of the ideas we are working on, email me at Grapevine: firstname.lastname@example.org