We are Ross, Ally and Beth, three friends who went to school together in Leeds and are now all “coincidently” at Glasgow Uni, about to go into second year. We are having a fab time, loving our courses and have great friends but it's fair to say that this year (and many other years) have not been plain sailing. Ally has epilepsy, Beth has JIA and Ross has been along for the ride – spending many an hour keeping us company in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. This has created many challenges, from ambulance rides and hospital stays, to the day-to-day challenges of independent living, socialising, academic issues, and navigating a new city. Everyone faces these day to day challenges, but a disability makes this all a bit trickier! All of this however has been made a lot easier by having incredible, understanding friends that have gone above and beyond to support us in any way they could (@Ross!)
We recognised that we had actually been extremely lucky with our friends, and from talking to other young people with long term health conditions we realised that the majority of them did not have this experience. We were surprised, and saddened, knowing first-hand how much difference a group of supportive friends makes, so decided to look a bit further. We quickly realised that the problem wasn’t that people weren’t nice and didn’t want to help, it was just that often people did not have the understanding or awareness as to how to help, and those with long term health conditions found it difficult to have these conversations with friends. We felt like it was time to try and stimulate conversations between friends and encourage a much wider understanding of the challenges faced in the day to day life when living with a chronic health conditions, so that everyone is part of the solution.
So, you might ask- how are you going to do this? Here is the Plan of Action; to tackle the issue from a number of angles, one step at a time (hence OSAAT!). Our two main focuses are this blog, and workshops. In this blog we are planning on talking about a range of issues with the purpose of raising awareness of these issues and offering our tips on managing these issues for both people with disabilities and their friends, as well as rants on accessibility to tips on socialising (Nights out? Flashing lights? Alcohol? A challenge!). We also want to publish blog posts that see us talk more candidly on experiences and day-to-day challenges and solutions as we come across as we come across them. We are aiming to release at least two posts a month which should be a mixture of these formats. Our workshops will be run in schools and organisations that work with young people, such as Scouts and Guides. The purpose of these workshops is to try and make young people aware of the challenges people with chronic health conditions face and how people can support them. In the workshops we are doing a number of activities from ‘empathy maps’ to ‘a day in the life’ activity where we get young people to run through a day in the life of someone with a disability, considering any challenges and any ways that people could support.
We’d love for this to genuinely have an impact and are so open to suggestions and if you feel like you can or want to contribute to the blogs or workshops please drop us a message!
Ross, Ally, and Beth x