Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000

Description

Last year the BTF held over 30 free Local Support Group meetings, each time attracting 10- 60 patients with thyroid disorders and their families. The 5 current groups based in Bristol, Leeds, Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Edinburgh offer a great way to find reliable health information, face to face support, friendship and share experiences with other people. External speakers, usually medical or other health and holistic wellbeing professionals are regularly invited to provide information , answer questions and share advice that can improve people's abilities to manage their condition and live better.

As a small, national charity, our project aims to fund the annual costs of BTF Local Support Groups that provide an essential support network for the thyroid community. Money is needed to cover costs of room and equipment hire, speakers, publicity and awareness-raising materials, patient information leaflets, volunteer training, development and a nice cup of tea! The BTF receives no statutory funding and is completely self funding.

Thyroid disorders are common, affecting up to one in 20 people in the UK. Usually it is older women who are diagnosed but men, children and babies can suffer too. Most patients manage their thyroid health but there is a significant, and often silent, minority whose lives are cruelly changed by the diagnosis and who struggle to feel well. We really want the BTF Local Support Groups to continue providing a vital source of friendship, encouraging social interaction, building confidence and at times even be a 'lifeline' to those who feel isolated and bewildered by thyroid disease.

Here's some feedback about the difference our Local Support Groups have made:
Peter told us ‘When I was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer it came as a shock. Joining my local thyroid community was hugely supportive and helped me feel less isolated. Although we all had different conditions we were all in this together, trying to understand how to cope. Especially during those initial confusing months having access to information and sharing experiences was a great help.’

Another man was struggling to manage his thyroid medication and says ‘I would not be here now’ without the Local Group leader, who accompanied him to the pharmacist and listened to him for many hours.

When Lynda joined her Local Support Group she says ‘I felt really down and thought that nobody would be able to help me’ but she is now a regular attendee (of three years) and says ‘There is a great rapport between those attending and one of the good things is that there is also humour so we come away not only feeling more knowledgeable, but also feeling more positive.’

Caroline says ‘I especially find the meetings with speakers very informative and have learned a lot from the endocrinologists we have as guest speakers. Since I've been attending the meetings (six years) people say that I have become much more confident and outgoing. I always look forward to the meetings and have many more friends.’

Shelia's thyroid disorder meant that she was unable to regain full fitness and had to give up her job thereby losing her home. She says that her Local Support Group gave her ‘knowledge about my condition and also the chance to share experiences with other people. The meetings are informal and friendly so that everyone is relaxed and feels able to ask questions or contribute to the discussion without feeling nervous.'

Aviva funding will be greatly appreciated in helping these groups (hopefully new areas too) grow to be an even stronger presence in our local communities so they can reach out to unmet demand from those who feel challenged and beaten by thyroid disease.

British Thyroid Foundation

The Local Support Groups are organised and led by committed volunteers who themselves have thyroid disorders. They personally develop friendships and seek out relevant and interesting information and guidance so people feel better physically, psychologically and able to manage lifelong conditions.

Location: UK