Posted on Friday May 11, 2018 by The Foundry Healthcare

I am a child of immigration. Both my parents came to the UK for their education, and because of this the value and importance of education has been a strong influence in my life. I believe that education can equalise the playing field, it can transform the potential of anyone and can create real change. To me the Stroke Support Organisation Faculty Tool, SSOFT, incorporates these important aspects; equal access, increased potential and the means to change things for the better.

Victoria Brewer, the Project and Operations Director for Stroke Alliance For Europe (SAFE)

I began working on SSOFT in September 2017 and until that point I had little interaction with Stroke Support Organisations (SSOs) or patient groups. I had come across stroke in a scientific context through working with academics and clinicians in past roles, but the patient’s role or voice was absent from my experience. A realisation that has become increasingly obvious since starting on this project.

SSOs fight daily to support the needs of those that not only survive stroke but also those who are at risk from it. There are success stories such as the Stoke Association’s F.A.S.T campaign or the work by the Finnish Brain Association (Aivoliitto) around raising awareness of the stroke risk factors associated with high blood pressure.

However, sometimes I feel that stroke is still an invisible illness. A stroke is an event, it happens in a short period of time either because of a clot or bleed in the brain. The impact of this can be life threatening and in cases where someone has survived there can be long term effects. These effects are wide ranging and can be devastating for the stroke survivor and their family and friends. Prevention awareness and long-term support services are vital but can be lacking in many countries. The implications of stroke are wide ranging and because of this it disappears into the background of other medical conditions.

This is why the role of SSOs are so important and why supporting them is key to creating positive change in the stroke landscape not only at a local level but on a national and international one. SSOFT has the potential to do this for SSOs and why this project is important to me. It is the embodiment of the principles of education I believe so strongly in; by creating equal access to knowledge SSOFT will increase the potential of SSOs to change things for the better.

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