British Polio Fellowship opens its doors to the public for the first time
Leicester will be the latest place to benefit from the spirit of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, when The British Polio Fellowship stages its annual National Indoor Games at the Leicester Marriott Hotel, Enderby, over the weekend of 22-24 March. For the first time ever, the British Polio Fellowship is opening its doors to the public, inviting members of Leicester’s local community, plus health professionals and GPs to come and find out more about Polio and Post Polio Syndrome (PPS).
Ted Hill, Chief Executive of the The British Polio Fellowship, said “The general public will be welcome to pop in and see us at the Leicester Marriott, Enderby on Friday between 2:00pm and 5:00pm. It is an opportunity for us to dispel some of the myths about Polio in the UK and explain the history and purpose of our charity. Despite popular misconception, Polio still leaves its trail of devastation on thousands of lives in the UK today. There is a community of some 120,000 people in the UK living with the effects of Polio in the form of PPS, and our role is to offer support, guidance and information to these people and their families and friends to enable them to live as full a life as possible.
“Everyone is welcome and we are particularly interested in learning the experiences of some of Leicester’s Asian community, who may have fairly recent experience of Polio and its after-effects, from India and Pakistan, for example,” added Ted Hill. Whilst India was recently removed from the World Health Organisation list of countries having Polio, new cases of Polio are still being reported in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Anyone who may have been affected by the impact of Polio or PPS, either individually or indirectly through friends and family, can call The British Polio Fellowship on 0800 043 1935.
In addition to the general public, health professionals and GPs are also welcome and encouraged to come and met members of the British Polio Fellowship Team. Health professionals play a crucial role in terms of correct diagnosis, treatments and therapies, and British Polio Fellowship feels more can be done to raise awareness of the condition of PPS to give health professionals the best chance of offering the best care.
Last year, a survey revealed that despite being as common as Parkinson’s disease, awareness amongst GPs of a fellow neurological condition, PPS is perilously low resulting in a forgotten generation of polio survivors struggling for diagnosis. The survey, undertaken by The British Polio Fellowship, revealed that 69 per cent of GPs rate their own level of knowledge of PPS as low and 42 per cent said they would feel the need to refer a suspected PPS case to a neurologist for diagnosis, an acknowledgment that there needs to be more awareness of the condition across the first line medical community.
“One year on and pretty much nothing has changed,” said Ted Hill. Awareness is still dire and the feedback we get from Members suggests that GPs are still generally in the dark on PPS. The positive news for GPs is that this is a condition for which they can, once armed with the information, create a successful management strategy and positively impact on the patient’s quality of life. We hope GPs and health professionals will take the opportunity to come and learn more when we are in Leicester on Friday 22 March. If we can help even one extra GP or health professional successfully diagnose PPS in the future – when they would perhaps otherwise have not identified the condition – it will have been a worthwhile exercise,” said Ted.
British Polio Fellowship’s high profile supporters include the inspirational paralympian James Crisp. London 2012 medal winner James Crisp will be in Leicester over the weekend attending the Indoor Games and is a keen ambassador for the British Polio Fellowship. Having contracted Polio as a result of vaccine damage, this led to James eventually losing the use of his left leg. Having experienced this muscle wastage from such an early age James has always managed his lifestyle around his disability and hasn’t let it hold him back from achieving his dreams.
James Crisp said: “Contracting Polio was obviously a traumatic experience for my parents but one which I was luckily too young to really understand at the time. However, it has made me the person I am today and it’s the reason I am part of the British Paralympics Squad.
“I am a keen supporter of The British Polio Fellowship; working to raise money for the charity through my sponsors and supporters, in order to help others like me achieve their dreams and make the most of their abilities, not focus on their disabilities. The Indoor Games is a unique opportunity for those with Polio and PPS (Post Polio Syndrome) to come together for the weekend from all over the country, keep the Olympic and Paralympic spirit alive and try and fulfil their dreams of achievement.”
Anyone who may have been affected by the impact of Polio or PPS, either individually or indirectly through friends and family can call The British Polio Fellowship on 0800 043 1935 or all are welcome to call in and see a member of staff in attendance at the National Indoor Games. Around 140 competitors will take part in the Indoor Games finals, having qualified from their regional heats in one of the 9 regions of the country, comprising East Midlands; Scotland; Home Counties; North of England; North West; South of England; Wales; Western; and Yorkshire.
10 individual games will be played: Kurling; Bowls; Darts (standing); Darts (sitting); Boccia; Draughts; Cribbage; Dominoes; 5s and 3s; and Scrabble, with medals up for grabs in all categories and competition extremely fierce.
Ted Hill said: “It must be remembered that many of our members who have made it through to the national finals were strong competitors in many sports when they were younger, many having represented their region and country in the original British Polio Games which included track and field and swimming. The National Indoor Games was born as a way of ensuring those living with the effects of Polio still had a national forum in which to compete and socialise.”
Whilst the level of competition is still incredibly intense and people are clearly ‘playing to win’, equally as important to those with Polio and PPS is the opportunity to catch up with old friends, swop notes about latest treatments and share experiences found to help with day to day living.