Stroke survivors feel "I am more than my stroke"
This Christmas, we’re celebrating some of the ways our stroke groups across the UK are helping stroke survivors with their recovery and empowering them to believe “I am more than my stroke”.
Follow our Twitter account to see the groups singing their version of the '12 days of Christmas'. Be sure to check back each day to see each group featured!
Day 1: Strike a Chord Choir
Cwmbran’s Strike a Chord Choir is for stroke survivors, their friends, carers and family. They sing a variety of songs and particularly welcome people with communication difficulties caused by stroke.
“I love working with all the choir members and the Stroke Association. It's such an honour to be a part of this project," says Musical Director Alison Shone. “Singing is so healing and makes us feel happy. Everyone goes away from the sessions smiling after an hour of fun!"
The choir was formed in 2014 and in 2016 they won the Voluntary Arts Epic Award.
Day 2: Macclesfield Knit and Natter Group
The Macclesfield Knit and Natter Group is a Stroke Association voluntary group which meets each Wednesday at Wykeham Chase in Macclesfield from 10:30am-12pm. Stroke survivors and group members enjoy knitting or crocheting for themselves and their friends and family. They also sell their creations to raise vital funds for the group.
“The Knit and Natter group was set up to enable people to socialise and improve their recovery from stroke, while helping with coordination and mobility," says Diane Warhurst, Stroke Association Support Coordinator. "Taking part in hobbies and interests is such an important part of life after stroke."
"One of our longest-standing members Jean even knits one-handed using a workman’s vice. She has a real passion for knitting and her ingenuity has allowed her to continue her hobby, despite having very limited movement in one arm and hand.”
Day 3: Stroke Association Staff
Day 3 of our 12 Days of Christmas features a group of our colleagues from the Stroke Association. Our staff work hard to provide emotional, practical and social support to people affected by stroke every year.
They ensure we’re able to deliver stroke services across the UK, campaign for better stroke care, invest in research and fundraise so we can reach as many stroke survivors as possible.
Day 4: County Durham Communication Support Group
About a third of stroke survivors have some difficulty with speaking or understanding what others say, which can be frightening and frustrating. The County Durham Communication Support Group supports stroke survivors who are living with communication difficulties. It aims to help people to develop communication strategies, rebuild their confidence and independence, and find life after stroke.
Alan Hodgson was supported by the service. He says: “When I left hospital I didn’t know what to expect. I got a phone call from the Stroke Association, and the Coordinator made an appointment to come and see me."
"The help that we got was second to none. She helped me with reading, writing and gave me reassurance that there was somebody there for us, and that there were others in the same boat. The Communication Support helped me massively, it gave me more confidence and boosted my self-esteem”.
Day 5: Swaffham Stroke Association Voluntary Group
The Swaffham Stroke Association Voluntary Group which features “The Third Agers” Ukulele band, meet once a month for a wide range of social activities and provide information and support for stroke survivors in the region.
Launched in April 2018, the group was set up after a member of the ukulele band, Brian Salmons, had a stroke in 2017.
Day 6: The Wakefield exercise group
The Wakefield exercise group meets every Thursday morning at 10.30am at The Mill in Castleford, to help local stroke survivors improve their mobility and fitness, while also helping to prevent another stroke in the future. Organised as part of the Wakefield Stroke Recovery Service, the group was initially set up in May 2016, and then recruited a volunteer to help run the sessions.
“The group initially started off with less than 10 members but word soon got around and the group has continued to thrive with new members joining monthly," says Stacey Taylor, Stroke Association Support Coordinator. "After the exercise session, the group head into the café next door, where they enjoy vital peer support."
"Some of the group have now made good friends and often meet outside of the group situation. The group is so successful we have outgrown the current venue and we are currently trailing a new bigger venue that is more suited to the number of people we support.”
Day 7: Fylde & Wyre Stroke Survivors Golf Group
Fylde & Wyre Stroke Survivors Golf Group is led by volunteers to provide stroke survivors with social support and golf activity sessions, with the support of PGA Professional Dan Skelcher. At the twice-weekly sessions, stroke survivors make the most of an hour’s session on the driving range.
The group encourages accessible physical activity, which supports stroke survivors' physical and mental wellbeing. The sessions are open to all abilities.
“The golf sessions provide an opportunity for stroke survivors to socialise with others who are also experiencing life after stroke benefit from exercise, build their confidence and enjoy learning new skills," says John Lanes, Volunteer.
The group is supported by the Fylde and Wyre Stroke Recovery Service which provides high-quality information, practical advice and emotional support following a stroke.
Day 8: Newcastle (NI) Stroke Group
This stroke support group in Newcastle, Northern Ireland started in April 2014 and now has approximately 18 members. It's one of 13 similar peer support groups that meet regularly across NI.
The group enjoy activities like painting, organised trips to local attractions and socialising in nearby cafés and restaurants. They meet weekly on Tuesday mornings at 10.30am. To find out more, call the Stroke Association office in Belfast on 02890 508020.
Day 9: Resolution Runners
Some of our intrepid Resolution Runners braved the cold to help sing day 9 of our 12 days of Christmas during their training.
Being able to run again is a huge milestone for some stroke survivors and our Resolution Runs can help stroke survivors to regain confidence in their abilities. Sign up for your nearest Resolution Run here.
Day 10: Brush Strokes Art Group
The Stroke Association’s Brush Strokes Art Group is a creative group run from the charity’s Life After Stroke Centre in Maidstone. The group was set up by the Stroke Association and local art tutor Jim Maloney. Stroke survivors attend the workshop to explore different artistic techniques, such as watercolours and pastels.
Art therapy can help stroke survivors build their confidence and express themselves in new ways. We see the overwhelming courage and determination many stroke survivors show in coping with the loss of different skills that we can all take for granted.
The art group regularly exhibit their work in Allington Library and are currently celebrating the success of one of their members, Steven Ferrari, who won this year’s national Stroke Association Christmas card competition. Steven’s winning design has been printed on a Christmas card.
Day 11: Swimming after Stroke
The Stroke Association’s Swimming after Stroke group takes place every Tuesday in Fulham. Swimming after Stroke helps local stroke survivors to learn or re-learn how to swim. The swimming classes have also proved to be an effective way to improve recovery after stroke.
A common occurrence after a stroke is muscle weakness and feeling a loss of limb control. Stroke survivors work with the Stroke Association to regain strength and control via targeted exercises.
Our swimming classes help stroke survivors to improve physical wellbeing, adapt to a healthier lifestyle and increase independence. The classes allow stroke survivors to meet others in a similar situation and support each other through exercises whilst increasing confidence in the water.
Day 12: Life After Stroke Centre activity users
The Life After Stroke Centre Activity Users are based at our dedicated centre in Bromsgrove. They attend and coordinate various activities every month at the centre.
Our group here features Steve Powell (riding the trike), stroke survivor Carol Brogan and two of our wonderful volunteers Val Murphy and Terry Luxton.
Stroke clubs and groups
Stroke clubs and groups offer support for people who have had a stroke and are a good way of meeting other stroke survivors and their families. Clubs and groups are usually run by volunteers and regular meetings are held in local halls or community centres.
Each club and group is different. The activities they offer range from outings to exercise classes and some have their own choir.