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New support for local people suffering from pain and illness
Friday 8th January, 2010

New support for local people suffering from pain and illness

A new series of courses for people suffering from chronic pain or illness have been commissioned as part of the “What makes Wigan work?” worklessness strategy.

Several thousand people in the Borough are unable to work due to health conditions ranging from back pain to ME. In many cases there is only a limited amount that can be done with conventional medical treatment.
Wigan Borough Partnership and Wigan Council have allocated funds from the Communities and Local Government’s Working Neighbourhoods Fund, for a series of “Living Well” courses in the Borough. Courses are free to local people who are out of work and suffering from pain or ill-health. It is hoped that they will help participants to return to greater activity and quality of life, and that some may want to enter other training, voluntary activity or paid employment. The course is not linked to benefit provision in any way so does not affect benefit entitlement.

Cllr David Molyneux, Deputy Leader of Wigan Council and Cabinet Champion for Regeneration said: “Poor health is a major factor preventing people from working. Wigan Borough has one of the highest claimant counts for Incapacity Benefit in the country. The Living Well programme aims to help people to cope with their condition and work towards winning their life back and accessing employment.”

The courses are run by Breathworks, a not-for-profit organisation itself founded by someone with chronic back problems, and now internationally known for its courses and their positive impact on people’s lives. It uses an approach called “mindfulness”, which is an established approach recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) for overcoming recurrent depression, and which has for some years been applied successfully to conditions of chronic pain or stress. This uses guided body awareness exercises to develop greater ease and natural breathing to help manage pain or stress. It aims to help people to manage their own body and thoughts and get the most out of life.
Courses have been running in the Borough through the autumn and resulted in lots of great feedback. One participant from Hindley Green, who has suffered chronic pain in her spine and neck for 18 years, said at the end of the programme:
“The course has helped me learn to really live with my pain. My GP said “it’s done you the world of good” and is going to refer other patients. I would just like to say thank you very much for giving me my life back”.
Others said:
“This is the best course I’ve ever been on”
“Everyone was so friendly and supportive”
“I feel much more confident now”

The next courses, the last ones available under the present round of funding, start at the beginning of February in Wigan, Abram and Leigh. For information or to book places, call Breathworks: 0161 834 1110.

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