FMCP Club is combatting loneliness in people with neurological conditions
The Sutton and Surrey support group is raising awareness of conditions such as ME, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia
The FMCP Club is a support group for people with conditions such as ME, multiple sclerosis, functional neurological disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Addison’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and other neurological conditions. These conditions often cause loneliness and isolation, and we work to combat that. I founded it in 2011 and it has since grown to have over 100 members in Surrey and Sutton.
Many people with fibromyalgia, for example, struggle with the condition for years without being diagnosed. It often takes a conversation with someone or an article in the press to alert them to fibromyalgia as a possible cause for their condition. FMCP Club are working to raise awareness of the condition within the community and particularly amongst the medical profession.
Before COVID-19, we were holding meetings that included chair-based exercises and other activities like making cards, doing mindfulness sessions, tai chi, arts and crafts. Speakers would come in and talk to the group and we’d started to look at having some group outings too.
At first, we weren’t able to hold meetings online during the COVID-19 outbreak, as most of our members did not have the correct equipment. Instead we kept in touch via email. After a while, I found out that some of the members were quite interested in having Facebook Portals (video calling devices with accessible features such as voice control and smart cameras which keep you in frame), for which we managed to get funding. We have been thrilled to be able to give these to ten of our vulnerable members. They have told us these devices have been great and have helped them to feel less lonely by enabling them to stay in touch with family and friends.
To help support the group during COVID, we have discussed mental health issues . We signpost people to helpful information and as an advocate, l help and support members with issues they have.
It has been difficult for us all, and loneliness is a struggle during this time. Members are missing their families and friends but we do the best we can to keep in touch with each other and have a laugh. We all suffer with similar things, like brain fog, so we share stories and have a giggle about them together.
Jacqui Barbet-Sheilds is the founder and a trustee of the FMCP Club.
Helpline numbers : 0844 891 3728 and 01737 669562.
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