In today's blog post, we catch up with Birmingham Support Group Leaders Ellie (right) and Lexi (left). They share their experience and reasons for volunteering and a few words for anyone thinking about attending a support group for the first time.
Can you tell us a bit about how and why you became an Endometriosis UK volunteer?
Ellie: I became a Support Group leader in September 2022 and my reason for this is that Endometriosis UK has been there for me in my darkest days. I've suffered with endometriosis since I was 11 and it took me 12 years to be diagnosed with endometriosis, throughout these years I felt very alone or that I'm just crazy or imagining things when that wasn't the case and I just wanted to help give that love and support back, especially in my local community.
Lexi: I became a Support Group Leader volunteer in June 2023. I was diagnosed in 2015 with endometriosis and over the years, I have turned to Endometriosis UK for support and guidance. When I had the opportunity to give something back, it was an easy decision to volunteer. Endometriosis UK and its volunteers have helped me on more than one occasion, and this gives me the opportunity to support others going through similar situations.
What does your support group mean to you?
Lexi: The support groups at times have been a real lifeline. The Birmingham & Black Country group are a great group of people. They are all wonderfully different and are all willing to listen and support wherever they can. It's often difficult to talk frankly about the impact of endometriosis with family and friends, but having a group of people that understand your highs and lows, champion you and pick you up when you need it, is just priceless. I feel really lucky to have been introduced to such a wonderful group.
Ellie: It means everything to me! The group are amazing and they're not just people I meet with once or twice a month they're now good friends to me. To be able to be in the same room with people you get on well with, who can firsthand understand your journey and share similar life experiences as you, there are no words for it. Endometriosis can be so lonely and daunting, so to be able to come together over a cup of tea or coffee and to have a chat with one another truly is special.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about attending a support group?
Ellie: You are so welcome! I find that people sometimes worry about being new, or are worried about what the people in the group are like and it's totally normal to feel this way, so I just want to reassure anyone who might be feeling that way that everyone is welcomed with open arms.
Those already in the group are amazing. There is never any pressure to share your journey, or speak on topics that you're not comfortable with and please don't feel obliged to stay for the whole session.
Lexi: Be as involved as you feel comfortable to be. At the group, there is no expectation to share your experience with others if you don’t feel comfortable to. Sometimes it’s just about being in the company of people that really get it. The groups are there to support you in a way that works for you, when you need it.
Thank you Ellie and Lexi for sharing your volunteer stories with us and for your support for those with endometriosis in your local community. The Birmingham Group will meet next on Saturday 29th July. If you'd like to get in touch with this group, or find your local group, please visit our Support Groups page.