Breathe Easy groups provide peer support for Leeds residents with lung conditions

Love Your Lungs Week (Monday 22 – Sunday 28 June) aims to raise awareness of lung health. This year, the British Lung Foundation and the NHS in Leeds is encouraging people living with lung conditions to access the virtual support available across the city.

People who have conditions such as severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, or cystic fibrosis, will be particularly at risk during the coronavirus outbreak. This means they may be shielding at home, limiting social interaction, to protect themselves from the virus.

This year’s Love Your Lungs Week, led by the British Lung Foundation, is urging people with lung conditions to stay connected during the coronavirus outbreak. The campaign is raising awareness of the virtual support available locally, including several Breathe Easy peer support groups across Leeds which are now running online, led by member volunteers.

Dr Katherine Hickman, GP and Respiratory Lead for Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Breathe Easy groups are a fantastic way for people living with lung conditions – and their families and carers – to socialise, share experiences and learn from each other. Despite the groups not being able to meet face-to-face due to the current pandemic, we want to remind people that support is still available online.

“If you live with a lung condition, it’s very important that you stay at home as much as possible to reduce the risk of severe illness from coronavirus. However, if you’re shielding at home, it’s likely that you might be feeling lonely at the moment. If you join one of the Breathe Easy groups in Leeds, you’ll be able to meet others who know exactly what you’re going through, which can be a great comfort during this difficult time.”

Derek Hawkhead, 72, from Leeds said: “During the pandemic, I’ve had to shield at home due to having a number of health conditions, including COPD, which has been challenging at times. Before lockdown, I used to attend gentle exercise classes at the Breathe Easy group, and we met for coffee, trips, and even Christmas dinner. Although I miss attending the groups in person, we still get to see each other online every week for a virtual coffee, and regularly ring other members to make sure everyone is okay.

“My advice for anyone else who is shielding is: keep your mind active, find something to do and don’t let it grind you down. Keep in contact with friends – set up zoom, don’t lose touch, keep chatting and keep connected.”

You can search for your nearest Breathe Easy group on the British Lung Foundation website: https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/breathe-easy

Notes to editors

Coronavirus and lung conditions

Further information on how coronavirus can affect people living with lung conditions, as well as more information on Breathe Easy groups, can be found on the British Lung Foundation website: https://www.blf.org.uk/

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Issued by the communications team at NHS Leeds CCG. You can contact the team on 0113 84 35528 or 0113 84 35470. Alternatively, please email us: leedsccg.comms@nhs.net