Council Director hears experiences of residents with Long Covid

Published Thursday 4 November 2021 at 14:28

A support group in Blackburn with Darwen set up to help people with Long Covid has hosted a discussion with the borough’s Strategic Director of Adults & Health.

Sayyed Osman visited the group at one of its weekly meetings in Blackburn Library.

He heard from the group’s seven members about their experiences of living with Long Covid symptoms for longer than six months. Sayyed Osman was also keen to hear about how they have been treated by family and friends, and also their employers and health professionals.

Sayyed Osman commented:

We’re learning more about Covid all the time, including the debilitating effects of Long Covid. Symptoms are wide-ranging, including physical strength and stamina, and also cognitive function. In turn, these symptoms can have a damaging effect on people’s mental health too.

It was so enlightening to talk to this group of local residents in person, to take time to hear about their daily challenges and how Long Covid symptoms are still affecting their personal relationships, their work lives, and their mental wellbeing, many months after first testing positive.

Changes are needed, including within the NHS, to employers’ sickness policies and to how society as a whole responds to Long Covid diagnoses. We’ve learnt a lot already, but there is always much more we can do to support those people who are continuing to suffer.

The seven group members with Long Covid have been working with BwD Adult Learning, Re:fresh and the Covid Community Champions Team for a number of weeks to develop a peer-led support group.

They were keen to share with director Sayyed Osman their views on the type of support they need, both to help others experiencing Long Covid and to raise awareness among local service providers.

Among the support group, which has been meeting weekly for the last four weeks, is Maria Moriarty Eames, a 41 year old mum of two who works in marketing.

Maria commented:

To find this group has been invaluable. To be among like-minded people who are all experiencing the same things as me has been a huge support. The sessions have also helped me to develop skills to cope with my Long Covid symptoms.

59 year old Ray Halleron used to work as an engineer but had to give up work due to his Long Covid symptoms. Ray said:

I’d never taken a day off work sick in my life. To then find myself in pain, with insomnia, brain fog and a difficulty focusing, it’s been a constant battle.

I don’t actually know where I’d be if I hadn’t found out about this group. Until I came here, I felt like there was no one I could talk to – it’s hard to talk to my family as I don’t want to worry them or be a burden.

Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, added:

Blackburn with Darwen may well be the area of England with the largest percentage of residents with Long Covid as the borough has the highest cumulative number of Covid cases – over 30,000.

We’ve recently been identified as an Enduring Transmission Area and as such will receive additional support from central government to develop a number of projects to address some of the biggest difficulties we face at this stage in our pandemic recovery. We’d like to use some of the funding available to us to pilot early intervention programmes through our Health & Wellbeing service to support local people with Long Covid, including improved referral pathways and an intensive research study. We hope to hear more about funding for this work in the coming weeks.

The Long Covid peer support group will now run itself, meeting for a brew and a chat every Wednesday between 1pm and 2pm in Blackburn library. It’s free to attend and open to anyone in Blackburn with Darwen with Long Covid.

Another round of the Council-supported Long Covid group starts next Wednesday, 10 November. Anyone who would like to take part or has questions about the support on offer can get in touch with the Council’s Covid Community Champions team on or 01254 304597.

This site uses cookies. Find out more about this site’s cookies.