Sara Redmond, the ALLIANCE, marks the fifth year of the National Awareness Raising Week for Self Management.
Reaching the 5 year milestone has led me to look back at the week’s activities to consider what impact the week has had.
During Self Management Week self management projects and initiatives are showcased, events are run to highlight local and national work and the Self Management Awards reception is held to celebrate best practice.
The theme of 2014 was volunteering in recognition that volunteering can often be an important tool for self management – provoking increased skills, self-esteem and well-being as well as the power of peer based support. Many people will discover self management through another person with a similar condition. Valuing this lived experience is central to the work in self management taken forward by ALLIANCE members and supported by the Self Management IMPACT Fund. Yet we know, in order for this to happen, there needs to be investment in support and training for these leaders in lived experience to be facilitators of this change within their community. SMW is a great opportunity for people to have these conversations with new communities and audiences.
The week kicked off early with the Discover Self Management Conference in Highland, led by Let’s Get On With It Together. The conference brought together 70 people, including ALLIANCE Links Worker Programme Manager who shared some learning about this work. The event had a real buzz and readiness to learn and we received positive feedback from those who attended.
During the week, our members and partners held a series of events that invited people to discover self management. This included awareness raising events such as in Wick, Fort William, Helensburgh and East Renfrewshire, taster sessions such as Tai Chi for arthritis in Cambeltown, sharing good practice at the Self Management Awards and Coproduction Integration and Partnership Conference and a range of volunteering opportunities for people across our membership to learn from each other about the work we do to support self management.
For me, the highlight of Self Management Week 2014 is seeing the increasing sense of shared ownership of the week. The success of the week is thanks to the generosity of people to share with others their power of self management and hearing about the difference it can make to the lives of people living with long term conditions and their carers. Nothing captured this more clearly than the ovation 9 year old Amy MacBeath received when she spoke at the Awards about the difference self management makes in her life and her hope that this would inspire others: “I want to keep helping other people because it makes me feel good and it’s the right thing to do…you just have to say to yourself, ‘yes I can do this.’”