Breathe Easy in Islington Bingfield Health Centre - Image Credit: Bingfield Street Surgery Full view

Breathe Easy in Islington

Image Credit: Bingfield Street Surgery
Image Credit: Bingfield Street Surgery

Breathing easy has never been so simple in London.

The British Lung Foundation – a charity which supports people affected by lung disease and works with “Breathe Easy” groups – is helping many people to deal with their lung condition.

This nationwide foundation has a branch in Goswell Road, Islington, but they organize many events all around the UK, with their next important meeting due to take place on 2nd March at Bingfield Health Centre (pictured left) in Bingfield Street, Barnsbury. Anyone living with lung disease can join the event and have a good time with other people.

The main reason for these events being organized is that people suffering from lung disease often feel isolated and alone, and the “Breathe Easy” groups are aimed at helping them to integrate themselves back into society.

The groups are made up of volunteers, including doctors and specialists, who meet regularly in order to raise awareness of this problem and to help people suffering from it. Their main goals are research, positive change, information and support.

“We know that living with lung disease can be difficult. It can be confusing, limiting and frustrating,” says Chris Dyson, a Press and Campaigns office manager for BLF. For this reason, he asserts, “Groups are important in reducing isolation – so that people realise they are not on their own with their condition.”

The Bingfield Street meeting will give people living with a lung condition the possibility to have fun, to share their experience with other people and to voluntarily become part of this charitable community.

Joan McCarthy, who takes part in Camden’s “Breathe Easy” group meetings, says the main aim of their sessions is to “support each other and share our learning and information, but above all to educate”, calling education “one of the key points” of their “reunions”.

Joan is enthusiastic and it is easy, listening to her words, to see that she feels relieved, since she can get factual benefits from the meetings. When she was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), she was scared and terrified, but her life improved after she was introduced to the British Lung Foundation in 2008.

Today, she is the chair of the group, which means she acts as the speaker and coordinates all the members of her group during the sessions. Joan also periodically meets politicians at Westminster to present them with British Lung Foundation’s ideas, and she is very passionate about this.

Image Credit: OurGateshead
Image Credit: OurGateshead

According to recent research, one person in five in the UK is affected by lung disease, a condition which takes on different forms. “Asthma and bronchitis tend to affect younger people, while lung cancer is more common among older people,” states Alistair Martin, a BLF spokesman.

“COPD, instead, usually affects people over the age of 35 and who are, or have been, heavy smokers,” Chris Dyson confirms. The average age of people joining Breathe Easy group meetings is from 60-90 years old, because, as Joan asserts, if have a lung condition which is chronic you are more likely to be of an older age.

When asked about the main causes of this health problem, Chris says: “Air pollution in London remains a major problem.”

Penny Woods, Chief Executive of British Lung Foundation, has said that it is unacceptable that children have to grow up risking getting sick due to air pollution.

“We can’t reverse the effects on our children’s lungs when they’re growing up — this is why we need government action and we need it now,” she wrote in a letter to the editor of the Evening Standard. Indeed, the British Lung Foundation is also campaigning for cleaner air, and a recent BLF campaign aimed at banning smoking in cars with children in England culminated with a law being approved on October 1st, 2015 (one which was soon extended to Wales as well).

Another important event which people with lung disease cannot afford to miss is the “Breathe Easy Week”: it will take place on June 15th-19th and its aim is to make people suffering from lung disease feel that they are loved, giving them the possibility of sharing their experiences with other people while taking part in different events over the course of the week. Each “Breathe Easy” group will decide on a theme for the week, all of which will be revealed on the British Lung Foundation website soon.

As Joan asserts, there are multiple benefits to joining “Breathe Easy” groups: first of all, the sharing of experiences and knowledge; secondly, education. Indeed, not only volunteers, but also doctors and specialists take part in these group sessions and are ready and willing to help people suffering from lung disease, supporting them both morally and practically. If you suffer from lung disease, then you should really try it!

Written by Chiara Fiorillo

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