Rugby legend Gareth Chilcott opens FND support office in Bradley Stoke

Photo of Gareth Chilcott cutting a ribbon to open the FND FrieNDs office, watched by Lucy Skinner and Kevin Clark.

Bath Rugby legend Gareth Chilcott visited Bradley Stoke on 10th October to officially open an office for a group that supports people affected by Functional Neurological Disorder (FND).

Located within the West of England MS Therapy Centre in Wheatfield Drive, the office has been set up by FND FrieNDs, a charity formed by a group of individuals who all met while being treated for FND.

FND FrieNDs was created specifically to support those with an FND diagnosis in the south west of England. Initiatives instigated by the group include setting up a befriending service, offering signposting to patients and their families needing additional help, creating social meet-ups to reduce social isolation, and collaborating with other neurological patient support groups.

By teaming up with other neurological organisations, FND FrieNDs hopes that it will be able to improve services and support for those going through the difficult process of diagnosis, or those who have already been given a diagnosis. The office has not only become the organisational headquarters, it also act as a drop-in venue where people can come for a coffee and a chat and where carers can come for a much-needed break, support or signposting, especially if their cared-for person is in hospital.

The charity also plans to organise social activities such as craft days and will create a library of reading materials to help those diagnosed and their loved ones better understand their diagnosis.

The office will be manned every weekday, 10am to 4pm, with at least one of the charity’s trustees available.

People visiting the office will also be able to take advantage of other services currently available at the MS Therapy centre, such as the hyperbaric oxygen tank.

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FND Friends chairman Kevin Clark writes:

Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) is as common as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), as disabling as Parkinson’s, and is relatively unheard of.

FND can cause a wide variety of symptoms affecting most parts of the body, from weakness, stroke-like symptoms, blindness, bowel and bladder problems, tremor, dystonia and non-epileptic attack disorder (NEAD). More recently, other diagnoses such as IBS and ME are thought to come under the FND umbrella.

Historically, FND was thought to be ‘all in the mind’ or ‘non-organic’, as there was no known disease process. Now, research has shown that although a disease process has not been identified, the electrical activity in brains of patients with functional tremor and NEAD is different to that in control subjects, and a recent paper has raised the possibility that the immune system may be involved.

Photo: Gareth Chilcott (right) cuts a ribbon to officially open the new FND FrieNDs office; with Lucy Skinner (FNDF trustee) and Kevin Clark (FNDF chairman).

This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 16). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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