Opinions

“My health issues have always been an issue for everybody rather than something to be commended for actually trying to control my issues.”

Written by: Elspeth Kerr, COPE Scotland

Published: 19/07/2016

Elspeth Kerr

Elspeth became Self Management Inspirational Person in 2015 for the way she has taken control and now works to share this with others.

Reading this, I’ve been congratulating myself (and our wonderful judges) for recognising Elspeth Kerr as the Inspirational Person of the Year at last year’s Self Management Awards. She really exemplifies what we aim to celebrate at the awards every year.

It’s important to recognise that people living with long term conditions, and their carers, overcome many challenges every day but it is also important to ensure we can all be supported to take control and to realise we have the skills and strength to live better lives on our own terms. Elspeth is an inspiration because she has taken this control and now works to share this with others. Read on to find out about what it felt like to win an award in 2015 and the difference self management makes to Elspeth.

Name: Elspeth Kerr

Organisations: I am self-employed and a volunteer. I am an associate with Cope Scotland and an associate with Annexe Communities.  I volunteer with Volunteer Glasgow and Drumhub which is the charity I started up last November.

Job role: I am a community development consultant if you want to give me a title but I just really work in my community trying to give people the opportunities to get the best out of their lives for themselves and their families.

Describe yourself in three words: Wacky, caring and determined.

What would your ideal day look like? My ideal day would be busy working with people and increasing people’s confidence. My day would include having time to watch a film and share a meal with my family.

How did it feel to win Inspirational Person of the Year at the Self Management Awards in 2015? 
Amazing! I’ve never won anything like this in my life and it was absolutely astounding to be honest. My health issues have always been an issue for everybody rather than something to be commended for actually trying to control my issues.

What’s changed for you since you won the award?
It’s quite amazing, I don’t tell many people I won the award but I have been invited to things due to winning the award. At an event in Perth I met a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and just through having a conversation with him noting he had been nominated for a People’s Champion I was able to tell him about my award and through that he invited me along to their Peace Conference and so many people from the community were invited and it was so significant to get together and celebrate and enjoy the day. Through that I have been able to link with Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Group, so three of the ladies came along to our events on International Woman’s Day due to the connections made along the way which were a direct result of winning the award.

What helps you to self manage?
Really it comes down to keep doing what I do to stay in control of my life. Sheer determination and I have it in abundance! You might call it stubbornness but it is something along those lines and digging my heels in.

What are the key benefits to self managing?
It’s about feeling better in yourself, not necessary with the conditions because they are what they are but just feeling better in yourself because personally if I don’t and I lapse, for a long time I didn’t bother about it and I know now I was letting myself down so when I work at things and look after me it makes me feel better it improves my mental health and wellbeing as I know I’m then I’m trying my best to help me to live well.

What would you say to someone thinking about submitting a nomination for a Self Management Award this year?
‘Go for it.’ If you see things in that person that you think are worthy of an award or they are doing things that are great, then tell them about it and put them forward because the feeling of actually winning just makes you feel so humbled but for the fact alone that someone has recognised the work you do it’s such an empowering feeling. I would say ‘Go for it!’

If you could sum up the 2015 awards ceremony in one word, what would it be?
Astounding!

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