On 4th November this year, I had the honour and privilege of going to Parliament with Crohns and Colitis UK to speak to MP’s and Peers about life with IBD. It was a fantastic experience that I will never forget and I hope to repeat again.
Raising awareness and being a health advocate is everything to me and my ability to share my thoughts through this blog, writing for other publications, writing my book and speaking at events all over the UK is something I am hugely passionate about. I LOVE what I do and I am so proud of my work. But going to speak to the people in power, those who run this country, who I can educate to then help thousands of their own constituents is just amazing.
I love the work of Crohns and Colitis UK and I am so proud to volunteer for them both on a local and national level and it was just a fantastic event to be part of.
I was quite unwell during the lead up to this event and on the day I was struggling with pouchitis but decided to push through as it was so important to me. I met the amazing Carrie and David Grant who are ambassadors of the charity and got to hang out with fellow IBD activists Charlotte Guinea and the Get Your Belly Out team. What was very interested and helpful was to speak to all these people about my own personal experiences and learn about theirs. Both Carrie and Charlotte also discussed how they were currently unwell and we had a good old whinge about how IBD sucks.
I spoke to many MPs from all over the country and was over the moon to hear that over 80 MPs and peers came through the doors to learn more about Crohns and Colitis Care; the newest information pack produced by CCUK to help patients understand what they have, what they are entitled to and how to get the best care.
The people I spoke to seemed genuinely interested and cared about their constituents, they asked many questions and we discussed how they can help. A big thank you to Sheffield MP Harry Harpham, who has been in touch through email and though he couldn’t attend on the day as he had previous engagements in Sheffield, sent his parliamentary researcher to find out more.
What struck me was the motivation and strength of the volunteers and ambassadors, as we talked about our current illnesses, medication and treatments, I was very aware of the sheer heroism it takes to attend these events and raise awareness when you feel so dreadfully ill. Ironically all three of us (Carrie, Charlotte and myself) all ended up back in hospital within a week of this event which gives you an idea of just how poorly we are. But when you look at these photos, it is easy to just see 3 smiling women. The reality is that we are 3 women who despite our illness, keep striving to make the world an easier place for those who follow in our health footsteps.
I hope that all those MPs and Peers really took on board what I, and other ambassadors, shared with them. I hope they learnt something and will know better how to help and support their own constituents and how to signpost them to Crohns and Colitis UK.
I know that on that day I carried in my heart the voices of all of you lot, your words of pain and struggle rang in my ears as I spoke to MPs, your concerns, your anger, your needs were voiced through my mouth and I hope I did you all proud as an advocate for all those with Crohns and Colitis.