Coventry University graduate and ME suffer helps raise awareness of the condition in charity ‘knitathon’
Wednesday 16 May 2018
A Coventry University graduate with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E) has come to the end of a yearlong ‘knitathon’, raising awareness of the illness and helping sufferers to “press play on their lives again”.
Lauren Childs, who studied occupational therapy, set up the ‘All about M.E knitathon’ in May last year, after being diagnosed in 2014 – age 23 – with chronic fatigue syndrome, along with fibromyalgia and dysautonomia.
I was a young, ambitious, active, keen mountain biker who had the world at my feet. I had graduated from Coventry University with a first class honours in occupational therapy and I had got my dream job based on medical and surgical wards working as an occupational therapist.
Literally overnight my life fell apart. My body had completely shut down. Most nights I would go sleep feeling so unwell that I wondered whether I would wake up. I would find it difficult to talk, tolerate sound, light and touch.
Every movement was so exhausting and energy consuming that even lifting a mug was too difficult. I was in excruciating pain. I was unable to walk for very short distances and had use a wheelchair due to being so weak and fatigued. I needed help with activities of daily living such a bathing and washing my hair.
Last year Lauren’s health started to improve and she decided it was the right time to try and inspire and unite others living with the condition.
She asked sufferers, families and friends to knit a 6 inch by 6 inch square to represent them and their experiences with M.E.
I hoped the knitathon would be a way in which these missing souls of society could be seen, given a voice and heard and joined together.
I understand the difficulty that sufferers have with feeling too unwell to do many, if any, activities. I chose knitting as a way in which many sufferers could get involved and raise awareness, as it is a gentle activity which only requires small amounts of energy. I knew that this knitting campaign could provide sufferers with a feeling productivity.
I wanted to help others by trying to raise as much funds as possible for research, so scientists are able to find a cure for this devastating, crippling illness.”
The designs were pieced together and put on display in Coventry Cathedral for students, staff and the local community to see, and talk to Lauren about her campaign.
I have received roughly 850 squares, plus 3 completed donated blankets. I have received squares from as far as Canada and New Zealand. I have currently raised £355.
I chose Coventry Cathedral as I have so many fond memories at Coventry due to studying my occupational therapy degree here. I particularly love the multi-coloured stain glass windows in the cathedral and I thought the colourful patchwork blankets would look right at home here.
In the future I hope to be able to come in and talk to students about M.E. I’m interested in trying to raise as much awareness in the University community as possible.
The knitted pieces will soon go up for auction and Lauren will donate the proceeds to the ME Association to fund research.
She is now looking to take the next step with her health and push herself to do more, including volunteering, fundraising, working part time and eventually going back to a career in occupational therapy.
You can donate to Lauren’s cause on her just giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/AllaboutMEknitathon