June 12, 2019
Last Saturday, Action for M.E. hosted Meet M.E in partnership with The Oxygen Works and M.E. Highland and Islands in Inverness.
Meet M.E. was a free, informal, drop-in event for people affected by M.E. living in the Inverness area. The event provided a warm welcoming space for our organisation to connect with people in the Highlands and inform how we develop Mentor M.E. – our free, mutual peer support project for people affected by M.E. in Scotland. This event was attended by 52 guests and demonstrated the need for support and information in this area.
People came from the local area but many had also driven over two hours to get there. Attendees dropped in for lunch and to learn about what work the hosting organisations are involved in. The event had a very positive feel despite how difficult and complex nature of the stories shared. Whilst setting up the event, Rhona Grant MSP visited the team to hear about the experiences of people affected by M.E. in the Highlands.
People spent their time talking to our staff, Sam and Theresa, about a full range of issues important to them. These ranged from employment difficulties, frustrations with welfare benefit applications, supporting people adults who developed M.E. at a young age and getting access to treatment and support. People took the opportunity to pick up Action for M.E. Information and Resources and by the end of the afternoon, there were no resources left, such was the demand for information. In addition to this, we were delighted that people put their names forward to be a part of Mentor M.E. and help foster a network of mutual peer support in the Highlands.
Our guests told us that the best things about the day were connecting with other people who understand and are affected by the condition, “ meeting people and making connections and talking about my health which I never really do” and the “friendly people, welcoming atmosphere, helpful information.”
Action for M.E. in partnership with M.E. Highlands and Islands Regional Network and The Oxygen Works are now exploring how we best respond to what people said. One way of doing this will be for Action for M.E.’s project, Mentor M.E., to begin training the people who volunteered to mentor someone with the illness, and to respond to the requests from local people for a peer mentor. We are also very excited about the possibilities available thanks to the involvement of The Oxygen Works. This includes hosting further meet-ups in their space and exploring how the treatments that they offer can be made more available to people with M.E.
The event was also an opportunity for M.E. Highlands and Islands Regional Network to involve local people in its development. We are pleased with the level of interest that the event gave the Network and would encourage anyone interested in joining their steering group from Inverness to get in contact with the network’s founder Ken.
To find out more about the event, Mentor M.E or our next steps please email Theresa, or call her on 07753 247098.
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