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Reflections on the latest Community Bridges podcast episode with Self-Management UK

In the latest episode of the Community Bridges podcast, Geoff talks to CEO, Ian, and tutors Zev and Chloe, from Self Management UK.

What struck me most about these conversations was to hear how much value lies in connection through spared experiences. As a charity helping people learn to manage and often overcome their chronic conditions, it seems the lived experiences of their tutors - in this case Zev and Chloe - and in turn, their own transformations through Self Management UK’s courses, prove the importance and necessity of supplementary wellness organisations like this.

I was surprised to hear how confident and happy Zev sounded as he discussed his journey and current role at SMUK, considering the difficulties he was facing when he first made contact with the organisation. Chloe too, had experiences very similar to my own, and I was encouraged by how much the Self-Management UK course had helped her manage her condition. It gave me inspiration about other ways I can help myself in my own life.

With the NHS at capacity, more so now with COVID than perhaps ever, it gives me hope that organisations like Self Management UK exist, and I was glad to hear Ian and Chloe discuss the conditions they have managed to overcome and the positive spaces they now hold, being able to help others on their own individual self-management journey.

Being so crucial for so many people, it was sad and frustrating to hear that organisations like this often cannot provide the essential support they need to, for a number of reasons. Ian spoke particularly about the initial stages of someone’s journey into self-management and how they are often unable to support the individual - not because they can’t or don’t want to - but due to lack of policy or funding for that specific area. The complex way government funding works means they sometimes simply cannot help. Often problems arise even just finding basic and crucial information, such as where the nearest food bank is, because of the lack of infrastructure to facilitate communication between organisations. Though the integration with public health systems is lacking, it’s good to know at least that the community support exists and they’re trying their best to reach out. The impact of COVID, though awful in terms of illness and mortality, has, for the rest, instilled a new vigour for community and connection, so I can only hope that the more people that know about organisations like Self-Management UK, the more people will look out for vulnerable neighbours and help make those connections possible.

There were some alarming statistics Ian mentioned about the number of people with serious, life-limiting conditions/diseases going undiagnosed due to COVID, and I can’t say that isn’t a frightening reality, but the fact that Ian was positive that we’d adapt to help people with their wellness in new ways, gave me a bit of reassurance.

It was also heartening to hear Ian speak about receiving feedback, and how it reminds him of his purpose and how pivotal his role is in changing lives in the community. I have been lucky enough to have had help from various not-for-profit organisations and charities, and it has encouraged me to ensure I acknowledge the work they do more and the difference they’ve made to my life.


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