An Ashfield-based support group for people living with physical and mental illnesses is celebrating its first birthday and has been hailed as a ‘lifeline’ by members.
The Ashfield Hidden Illness support group meets every two weeks in Kirkby and gives people suffering from conditions such as fibromyalgia, ME, MS, depression and anxiety the chance to make friends and share their experiences.
Committee member Melanie Jackson was diagnosed with fibromyalgia 15 years ago and went along to the group with a friend.
Melanie (58), from Sutton, said: “When I was first diagnosed there didn’t seem to be anything around.
“It was ‘you have this but there’s not a lot we can do for you, so sort yourself out’.
“The group is a huge lifeline for people who are at a low point and don’t know where to turn.”
The group has 25 members who regularly attend meetings and over 200 members on its Facebook page.
As well as the chance to meet people who are going through similar situations with their illnesses, it also organises guest speakers, gentle exercise and trips out.
Cathryn Burgin (37), from Kirkby, has recently joined the group after having to give up her teaching job at Sutton Community Academy because of her fibromyalgia.
She said: “It’s the social side. It’s coming out and meeting other people and comparing and sharing symptoms and knowing that you are not alone.
“It’s also having to come out because you have a date in the diary so however ill you feel, you make the effort.”
Ashfield Hidden Illness support group was set up by Carole Renshaw and Jackie Appleby after Jackie found out she had fibromyalgia. The group meets every fortnight on a Wednesday morning at Nuncar Court on Nuncargate Road, Kirkby. Call Carole on Mansfield 759577 for details.