The British Lung Foundation's peer support groups give people a new lease on life
Celia (pictured in the front right) is 74 years old and was diagnosed with emphysema in 2002 after two years of gradually worsening symptoms.
Her lung condition made it difficult for her to continue her career as an occupational therapy technical instructor, but she also lives with managing high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Soon after diagnosis, Celia made contact with the British Lung Foundation and is now a member of a new Breathe Easy group in Hedge End.
She believes that the group’s weekly exercise and singing classes provide a real life-line for members: "I know that many of the people who come to the exercise and singing classes don’t see anyone else from one week to the next,” she says.
She emphasises that Breathe Easy is as much about fun as it is about lungs, and that she has seen people really open up and get a new lease of life through the group activities.
As part of the Accelerating Ideas project, Celia has become a member of the Southampton Local Planning Group, joining with other volunteers, healthcare professionals and British Lung Foundation staff to plan and oversee the project delivery.
The best thing for the group would be much greater awareness and referral from local GPs
Celia would urge anyone with a lung condition to give Breathe Easy a go. She regularly spreads the word to people receiving Pulmonary Rehabilitation (local authority exercise provision for people with COPD), so that they can find support once their PR course ends.
"I give talks to those in Pulmonary rehab and often see the fear that people with COPD live with," she says. "Some talk about their fear of dying, so I remind them that there’s a lot of living to do first and encourage them to come and try our singing and exercise sessions.”
Celia’s story shows how much Integrated Breathe Easy groups and the weekly activities mean to people living with lung conditions.
If you would like to find out more about the British Lung Foundation's Integrated Breathe Easy groups and their scaling ambitions, please visit the Accelerating Ideas programme webpage.