A volunteer support group for people suffering with chronic pain in Southport and Formby celebrated its 10-year anniversary on Friday 4 May 2018.
The volunteer group, “Pain Clinic Plus (PC+),” operates from Ainsdale Centre for Health & Wellbeing and is run by people who experience chronic pain to support each other and know that they are not alone.
The celebratory event was held for people who experience pain, and their families, carers and friends. The group runs in conjunction with Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust’s Community Pain Service, which is based at Ainsdale Centre for Health & Wellbeing.
Dr Becky Simm, Senior Clinical Psychologist at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“This is an example of a successful expert patient and health service collaboration in a community setting to sustainably support those living with long term conditions, particularly important when NHS resources are limited. Our expert patient volunteers inspire others with pain to live well, and are good role models. The group is a source of tips and support for people, as well as an opportunity to try out activities, experience success, and build confidence despite the presence of their pain. A lead volunteer with our Pain Clinic Plus group is Kevin Howard, who initially worked with clinicians in our NHS service many years ago when he was struggling with his pain. He found he was able to find purpose and meaning again in his life, despite his ongoing pain, and now is busy inspiring others through his role in PC+. The success of PC+ has inspired various spin off groups, such as our wellbeing choir “Good Vibrations”, a chair based exercise group, coffee mornings and other self-management groups, and we hope, in time, to develop further community initiatives with our expert patients.”
Kevin Howard, 56, is a service user and volunteer for the support group. Kevin has been with the group since its inception in 2008. He said:
“We had around 100 people turning up on the celebration day. It was a fun day and really lightened up the spirits. Many of our attendees said they enjoyed the event and we’re looking forward to the next ten years. We started off in 2008 with just two or three people and over the years I’ve watched the group develop and become popular. It helps pain sufferers cope with their pain by socialising and being distracted for a little while with different activities. Many people have pain and think they cannot be bothered. They are alone and isolated, and we are telling them to come and join us and know that they’re not alone. It is a friendly relaxed atmosphere.
“When I first came to the Community Pain Service, I was encouraged to think about what I could do and what was meaningful to me. I built a Dalek around 10 years ago as a way of spending quality time with my son who was about ten at the time and an avid Dr Who fan. It was also about teaching him practical skills, as I was unable to kick a ball because of the pain I was suffering It was a great bonding exercise which really helped develop a ‘can do’ attitude and a positive outlook on life with my condition.”
The event included cakes, healthy fruit, information stalls and a raffle with proceeds going towards paying for painting material, craft material and tea and coffee for future sessions. Speeches and a presentation celebrated the great work of Kev and all the expert patient volunteers, past and present, who have worked very hard over the years and make a big difference to people living with chronic pain locally.