Make Change Together
After being diagnosed with ME, Joan McParland helped establish the first ever ME clinic in Northern Ireland.
Joan from Bessbrook tells her story.
“I was very fit and active until I woke up one morning with flu-like symptoms – the start of my long ME journey.
My natural instinct was to push on but after three attempts to go back to work, I ended up bed-bound for the next seven years.
During this time, I promised that, if I ever improved enough, I would campaign to address the lack of support available for ME patients who were desperate for help.
Alongside a group of others, we set up a committee and applied for charity status. In 2013, the chair of our charity attended a meeting with the Patient and Client Council and, from this, a focus group was set up for ME and Fibromyalgia – the first meetings in NI for these diseases.
We were told it would take three years to see change but it took us five. Even though there were ups and downs, in 2018, a clinic lead was announced for ME to provide a space for sufferers to get dedicated help.
I am so proud of this achievement and I would encourage everyone to make change together.”
After becoming unwell and personally experiencing the lack of care provided to those suffering from mental health in Northern Ireland, Paul Greer from Portglenone, decided to speak up.
Here is his story.
“I have a background in care and nursing but when I became ill, I felt the care I received was inadequate. I felt that I didn’t matter and that made me feel worse.
Going through this experience has helped me find my voice and I decided to speak up for myself and others who are battling with mental health.
Through my work with the Patient and Client Council, I serve on the Bamford Monitoring Group. This group captures the views of people with mental health needs and learning disabilities and the experiences of families and carers in relation to changes being made to future services.
During my time working with this group we have helped create a care pathway to ensure those with mental health concerns receive the best available treatment, we’ve established a personalised approach to mental health and we’ve also contributed to the planning for adults with a learning disability, ensuring carers and families can put a future plan in place for those in their care.
Being involved has helped me have a voice and fight for those that don’t have a voice.
Stand up and make your voice heard to make change together.”