Jackie Farrell  Support Groups and “The Journey” Coordinator reflects on 2020. 

This New Year offers the opportunity to build on lessons learnt in 2020.

2020 will possibly go down as a year like no other in the 21st century. A year of mixed emotions mainly brought about from Covid 19.

The start of 2020 looked set to be a promising year for new groups.

January 18th  – Two new groups were launched

  • Worthing Shakers – led by Jackie Farrell - Launched by Mayor of Worthing, Cllr Hazel Thorpe
    BBC South News attended and made a short documentary which went out the following day on 6pm and 10pm news across the South.

Preparations were also in place to launch two more new groups in April 2020, which sadly didn’t happen due to Covid restrictions.

  •   Canterbury
  •   Chelmsford

Existing Groups

Leeds, Sheffield, Salisbury, North West and Sutton groups continued to be active up until March.

March is National Essential Tremor Awareness Month (NETA)

2020 was set to be the biggest year yet with three ET Awareness Days planned.

Two local ET awareness days took place (prior to lockdown).

March 7th - Worthing – attended by Worthing Mayor Cllr Hazel Thorpe and Worthing Town Crier Cllr Bob Smytherman

March 14th - Sutton, Greater London  

The main NTF Awareness Day 2020 was planned to take place in Leeds, 28th March. Dr Sarah Jarvis was to be facilitator and actor Rob Mallard was due to attend. But by 26th March complete lockdown came into force and no meetups were permitted, which meant the event had to be postponed.

The Journey of a thousand miles

At the time, lockdown restrictions made it look unlikely face to face groups would take place for a few months, so NTF looked at alternative ways to support the tremor community. One way was to use Zoom for a weekly online group which launched March 28th. We are pleased to say, it proved popular and the “Journey of a Thousand Miles” virtual awareness campaign was launched online July 4th by NTF Honorary President Lord Julian Fellows.

 The Journey was based on the Lao Tzu quote "A journey of thousand miles begins with a single step". The aim was to use "The Journey" as a vehicle to give people the confidence to talk about their tremor disorder. Also to raise awareness of essential tremor and orthostatic tremor in a collective way. One of the highlights of The Journey was when Corrie actor Rob Mallard joined us online and “The Journey” completed September 2nd. 

By September, Covid restrictions still meant no face to face groups and not looking likely to happen well into 2021. At this point we looked into supporting tremor folk online up to Christmas with a new format. There would now be a monthly Saturday group with additional weekly Wednesday lunchtime popin sessions. Saturday’s topics would vary with, social events, quizzes, speakers or just general chat.

An added bonus was a monthly activity challenge #ntfchallenges.

How are NTF challenges different to other NTF events?

These are not online Zoom events but instead a way to encourage people to get active, especially over the winter months whilst having fun.

2020 culminated with a Christmas Party 23rd December and fun and games were had by all.

We are still facing uncertain times and it’s looking unlikely face to face groups will take place in next few months. So the only option is for the tremor community to consider joining the online groups. These are listed on NTF website events page.

We know nothing can take the place of face to face meetups and look forward to when they can restart once again. In the meantime I hope you will join us online in 2021 and recommend you check the NTF website regularly for news, events and stories.

Jackie Farrell
NTF Support Groups Coordinator
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