Thursday, July 16, 2009

17 June 2009 - Day 18: Eastbourne District General Hospital - Balloon event

It is Breathe Easy Week. Breathe Easy groups are the British Lung Foundation's support network for patients with lung disease; they exist around the country, but so far there isn't one at Eastbourne, despite requests from patients.

My own group, Breathe Easy Canterbury and District, are hoping to draw attention to this absence with this event. We have pioneered making community balloon sculptures in health settings to raise awareness of lung disease. It's a great way to begin to discuss lung health and the need for support.

Penny Jones from Arts in Healthcare at the East Sussex Hospitals Trust has worked with Hannah from the British Lung Foundation to set up this event as part of my journey and it turns out to be very successful.

Three members of BE Canterbury arrive - Joan, Carol and Tom who fixed my puncture at the start of the journey. Together with Hannah, Penny and Rita who arrived earlier this morning, we all work with patients and staff to build a set of "community lungs".

The respiratory physiotherapists visit, as do two consultants, who all spend time discussing service provision for their patients.

Penny Jones, who has done so much to maker this event happen, spends time talking to the smoking cessation officer, Jeanette (left). And during the day, we have a visit from Holly, who has stopped smoking six days ago, kicking a fifty a day habit.

Shirley and Hanley arrive; they have previously enquired about an Eastbourne Breathe Easy group. They pose with us for our group photo at the end of the event.

In showing solidarity with lung disease patients in the Eastbourne area, we members of Breathe Easy Canterbury hope we have demonstrated the urgent need for social support here too. With thanks to all the hospital's respiratory staff who visited our event, and to Penny Jones of Arts in Healthcare, based within East Sussex Hospitals Trust, for all her hard work.

Penny has also booked and installed "Drawing Breath Recycled: Maps and Journeys" - the group multi-media exhibition about breathing and my previous coastal journey - within the outpatients area of the hospital, and it is here until the end of August.