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Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Breathing Easy: the power of peer support

Every five minutes in the UK somebody is diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Many more people are living with COPD and its debilitating symptoms without knowing they have it, or that help and support is on hand.

This World COPD day (16 November), an army of British Lung Foundation Breathe Easy group volunteers are holding awareness events across the UK encouraging people in their communities to take the British Lung Foundation online breath test and to act upon the results.

Correct diagnosis of COPD is the first step of the journey that increases understanding and leads on to access to treatment and help that really makes a difference. Increasingly, people with COPD are being encouraged to join or set up Breathe Easy groups so that they can benefit from health information and peer support as well as social activity and friendship.

An evaluation of the British Lung Foundation’s volunteer-led Integrated Breathe Easy groups has shown that people with COPD who attend the groups will gain knowledge, skills and confidence that will help them to stay well. Being part of Breathe Easy increases wellbeing and reduces the likelihood of medical emergencies and crises.

“My group has been a lifeline for me. It has enabled me to go out in public with more confidence and has empowered me to live my life to the full” - Breathe Easy Member

Through Accelerating ideas, more people than ever will have access to Integrated Breathe Easy groups across the UK. A new volunteer model is strengthening the foundations of Breathe Easy, and groups are being supported to extend their activity to include weekly singing, exercise, or other innovative and fun ways of welcoming everyone affected by respiratory illness, supporting their health and wellbeing.

For more information on #WorldCOPDDay and living with COPD visit: www.blf.org.uk/copd


Photo credit: British Lung Foundation


Jeremy Bacon

Jeremy has been supporting and developing self-help groups for 20 years, first in the field of mental health and since 2008 with ‘Breathe Easy’, the British Lung Foundation’s support g…