Hartlepool group connecting people with fibromyalgia across Teesside to open doors in January

A support group for people suffering from a painful long-term condition is getting ready to open its first office.

Saturday, 1st January 2022, 4:45 am
Stephen Picton decorating the kitchen of the group's office within The Arches, Park Road Hartlepool./Photo: Frank Reid

A community helping those living with fibromyalgia in the town – and across the region – is set for a fresh start when it opens its first office in early January.

It will be located at the Arches, in Park Road, and at least two group members will be there every day, ready to provide help and support.

The project is led by Hartlepool community champion Stephen Picton, who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2021.

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The support group's community room. Stephen hopes they will be able to open more offices in the region./Photo: Frank Reid

It causes severe pain all over the body, fatigue, memory problems and mood issues.

While recovering, he started looking for someone to talk to and realised that very limited support was available.

"I needed help from someone who was going through what I was going through and I couldn’t find anyone,” said Stephen.

He continued: “I thought, there’s got to be people out there who need someone to talk to. So what if I be the person they could talk to?”

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Despite not running from an office yet, Stephen has said the group has already made a difference.

“Within the first week, we saved three women’s lives,” he said.

He now hopes that having a base in the town will get even more people to talk to each other and open up, as well increase awareness among families about what those with the condition go through.

Stephen said: “Suicide is on the rise among people with fibromyalgia. We want to try and stop that as much as we can.

"Even if it’s just coming in, having a cup of tea, just having a chat with somebody. That is so much support, you wouldn’t believe."

Stephen, who is an independent Hartlepool borough councillor for the Foggy Furze ward, also hopes the group will be able to establish other offices across Teesside.

To fin out more about the group, email [email protected]

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