At the start of this year two of our expert patients set up a ‘graduate group’ following their completion of the Community Pain Services’ Pain Management Programme (PMP). They described their motivation for setting up the group as “When we completed the PMP we didn’t want it to end, we bonded with others in the group and wanted to carry on the good work of the clinic”.
The group runs fortnightly in a community venue and is open to anyone who has completed the PMP within the service. They have utilised their expertise and the knowledge they gained from the programme in order to help others continue practising the self-management skills which they learnt on the course. Although they act as the group’s coordinators they also encourage attendees to utilise their strengths and skills by taking roles within the group. They strive to provide a positive and uplifting environment where people can “feel a part of something” and gain support from others who have a shared understanding of living with chronic pain. The group also provides an important social aspect, as individuals living with chronic pain can often feel isolated.
On the success of the group they shared “I think what’s great is that everybody’s there for everyone else and we support each other and there is a common understanding that we’re all in chronic pain” and “It’s become more than just coming to the group, it has established meaningful friendships”.
The group has been an incredible success and they described their best hopes for the future as “to continue expanding and running successfully”.
On their experiences of setting up the group they shared “it’s giving back into the community which is rewarding, it has given us a sense of purpose and allowed us to feel valued and make a difference to other people’s lives”.
A huge thank you from the team at the Community Pain Service for their proactivity in setting up a fantastic group which provides an important community resource we can work collaboratively with to support individuals to live well despite chronic pain.
The starfish story
Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions. Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
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