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Awareness Week 2012

15th – 19th October 2012 was the first ever Hemiplegia Awareness Week and the culmination of months of hard work and preparation by lots of HemiHelp volunteers and staff. Our aim was to tell as many people as possible about what hemiplegia is and what means to us all.Comedy Night

Monday kicked off the week with a hilarious horde of top comedians performing at The Comedy Store. Organised by HemiHelp members Paddy Lennox and Annabel Jacklin, 310 people attended, laughed until they cried and saw the first screening of our short film Living with Hemiplegia. Paddy hosted the night brilliantly and overall raised over £3600!

Social networking site Twitter was a buzz with activity - 331 individuals and organisations tweeted and retweeted messages about hemiplegia. Among people spreading the word were HemiHelp friends Alexander Armstrong, Giles Coren and the wonderful violinist Nicola Benedetti. Also new supporters Lorraine Kelly, Colleen Nolan, Ashley Banjo and Chris Drake a.k.a “Lil Chris” from TOWIE! We couldn’t believe our luck! Thanks to everyone who joined in to make sure their followers got the message!

On Friday morning we were jumping out of our seats in excitement when we received word that the King of Twitter Stephen Fry tweeted a message linking to our film Living with Hemiplegia! Huge thanks to Rob Kinder, HemiHelp member, who arranged this.


Between us all, tweets about hemiplegia went out to a potential audience of 7,053,884 people! On Facebook, 179 people shared posts with their friends, 857 people talked about HemiHelp and a total of 17,061 people saw something associated with hemiplegia!

“Living with Hemiplegia” was made by a group of young people talking about their experiences and was seen by over 3000 people by the end of Awareness Week. Seventeen other children, young people and parents including Paralympic hero Sascha Kindred OBE joined in by making their own films about what hemiplegia means to them. If you haven’t seen these yet, have a look here:

“Well done HemiHelp! A great video which shows the many different ways in which our children can be affected by this condition.” A parent.

Comedy Night

More highlights:
9 bloggers featured real stories about hemiplegia
11 local newspapers featured articles thanks to members in Shropshire, Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire, West Midlands, Somerset, Mid Sussex and Hertfordshire – with a total circulation of almost 475,000 people.
2300 new visitors came to the HemiHelp website
1 motion was put to Scottish Parliament by Siobhan MacMahon MSP (who has hemiplegia herself) to support Hemiplegia Awareness Week. This was supported by 24 others.
17 HemiHelp members organised tea parties or cake sales where they gave out leaflets, showed the film and told their colleagues and school friends about hemiplegia.
130 hemiplegia wristbands were given out to friends and family members.
542 people were individually spoken to about hemiplegia
7 children and parents all over the UK spoke at school assembly or to a year group about hemiplegia. Some also showed the “Living with Hemiplegia” film.
Lots of people* put up posters in their local community – at places like the doctor’s surgery, the library, post office, at school, work, church, cafés, cubs, knitting groups and so many more! Lots more people* gave out leaflets; in school bags, at work, to friends and colleagues and anyone who would take one! * (there were so many we couldn’t count!)

awareness week

What were the results of all this?

  • Some people found out about HemiHelp for the first time: “@HemiHelp also found you thanks to @XanderArmstrong I have 2 y-o daughter w/ left side hemi, good to know there is a resource to help us.” “@erp_man @HemiHelp @stephenfry my daughter has hemiplegia and I am so happy to have found your account. We no longer feel isolated!”
  • Lots of people found out about hemiplegia and in particular the week provided an opportunity to talk to friends and family members to give them a full picture of how it affects.

This quote from a young person on the Facebook page summed up for us why raising awareness is so important: “I felt alone at 13 when it finally hit me that I wasn't like others and there was something different, even though I've never been treated any differently to my brother I still felt like an outcast. I then came across and joined the HemiHelp forum in hope that I'd meet new friends and gain a new outlook on life as a person with hemiplegia. I did and have met and spoken to so many people and I haven't looked back since. But through people speaking out about it so openly, it helped me come to terms with it and I no longer feel alone regarding hemi and I can’t stress to you enough awareness is so important. If we keep quiet many people will struggle with it and feel alone, like I once did; and you really don't have to. There is so much support out there for hemiplegia! :)”

Thank you to EVERYONE who contributed to Awareness Week. It has been so fantastic to see so many people working together to raise awareness, to help everyone affected by it to get on in their everyday lives.

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