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Posted 04.05.16

Extended Diploma student promotes awareness for ME with charity Fixers UK

By Sarah Packer

Extended Diploma in Art & Design student Hollie Cullen.

Extended Diploma Art and Design student Hollie Cullen, left chronically fatigued and in constant pain by the condition myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is calling on city businesses to back a campaign she has launched to raise awareness about the ‘invisible’ illness.

Hollie is frustrated at how often ME is misunderstood and has created coffee cup sleeves which share details of her experience, facts about ME and links to useful websites.

She worked with Fixers, a charity which helps young people to speak out, to create the sleeves and is now launching the sleeves ahead of ME Awareness Week.

She’s asking local businesses and cafes to stock her coffee cup sleeves during the dedicated awareness week to highlight the condition, which can cause chronic fatigue, painful joints and sensitivity to sunlight.

Hollie says, “Through my coffee cup sleeve campaign, I want to challenge people's knowledge of ME and help people grow a wider understanding about what sufferers really go through, from the stigma surrounding the illness right down to the symptoms.

“I want people to know a quick cup of coffee or a power nap is not going to cure a severe and sometimes life threatening illness.”

“Hollie's positive and determined approach throughout her time at the college, and her work to raise awareness of ME, has been an inspiration to other students." — Tweeny Van Mierlo

ME Awareness week runs from Monday 9 May until 15 May. Hollie hopes that local cafes and businesses will help her get her message out there.

She says, “It is important to me to get as many people on board with this campaign. Together, we can spread the word faster and tackle the stigma around ME as a community.

Hollie designed coffee cup sleeves to promote awareness for the condition.

“It will also raise awareness about the condition so that no longer will sufferers have to spend time simply trying to explain the illness and more often than not facing unhelpful, sometimes hurtful comments about ME.”

It may be known as a hidden illness but the impact of ME on sufferers and their families is anything but hidden.

“I want people to know a quick cup of coffee or a power nap is not going to cure a severe and sometimes life threatening illness.” — Hollie Cullen

Hollie describes living with the condition, “Growing up was really difficult. Due to the ME, I couldn't lead a normal childhood and lost a lot of my teen years due to it.

“It was awful living in a darkened room for months on end due to light sensitivity, complete exhaustion and constant pain all over my body. This was alongside many other symptoms of the illness, all whilst I knew other teens were going out to parties, taking exams and living their lives.”

Here at the college we will be stocking the coffee cup sleeves in its canteen to support the campaign during the awareness week this May.

Tweeny van Mierlo, Course Leader for Extended Diploma in Art and Design says, “Hollie's positive and determined approach throughout her time at the college, and her work to raise awareness of ME, has been an inspiration to other students.

“Hopefully Hollie's work will help to ensure that more young people with ME will receive the support and understanding that they need to succeed in their studies.”

The charity has helped more than 18,000 youngsters across the UK to have a voice in their community on issues such as cyber-bullying, self-harm, suicide or transphobia.

Fixers works with young people aged 16-25 across the UK by providing them with resources to help them campaign on issues they feel strongly about.

The charity has helped more than 18,000 youngsters across the UK to have a voice in their community on issues such as cyber-bullying, self-harm, suicide or transphobia.

Any businesses willing to use the coffee cup sleeves during ME awareness week can contact Carrie Garrad (carrie@fixers.org.uk).

For more information or to make a donation to fund more Fixer projects, visit www.fixers.org.uk
 

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