Vitality 360

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Vitality360 win VRA award!

We are delighted to announce that our Inspiring People project won a prestigious Vocational Rehabilitation Association in their fourth award ceremony during their conference on 15th May. Inspiring People was shortlisted, along with four others, in the VR Initiative category.

The Vitality360 Inspiring People project challenges the perception of what’s possible in CFS/ME recovery. Involving the dissemination of positive and inspiring stories and strongly supported by ex-patient volunteers, this project shows people that recovery is possible despite negative perception, fear, and stigma. It provides people with a strong message of hope, and links them directly to evidence-based therapy messages.

Evidence-Based Therapy Management of CFS/ME – Training Course in Liverpool Announced

We will be holding our next training course  in Liverpool in March 2014. The course is entitled ‘Evidence-Based Therapy Management of CFS/ME, and will be held at Broadgreen Hospital

The course will take place over 3 days, with the first two being the 26th & 27th March 2014, with a further follow-up day scheduled for the 23rd September 2014. The course will be led by Jessica Bavinton.

The course is open to all NHS employees, and members of BACME can benefit from a subsidised rate. For further information and an application form please contact


Inspiring People

Vitality360 is starting quarterly group discussion forums, open to all.

‘Inspiring People’ allows people to hear first-hand about an individual’s journey by dialing in to a call. The person sharing their story will be someone who either was or is affected by chronic fatigue, who has experienced significant changes in their health having worked with Vitality360. The calls are around an hour in length and also provide an opportunity for participants to ask questions and connect with others with similar health issues. The calls are designed so that people have the option to simply call in and listen, without having to speak should they wish. Attendees to the call are welcome to join for the full hour or a shorter portion if preferable.

The first session is planned for Thursday 20th February from 2 – 3pm, the subsequent calls are planned for May, August and November. If you have any questions about ‘Inspiring People’ please get in touch with Sara:


Video: Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend

Click to watch video: Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend

This video was forwarded to us by someone we are working with in our clinics (thank you – you know who you are!).

During a conference talk, Kelly McGonigal talks to us about the stress response and challenges us to see the response as a positive physiological response that increases courage and our ability to face a challenge, rather than a ‘bad’ or ‘dangerous’ response that does our health ‘damage’. It also highlights a physiological reason for giving and receiving care and support from people around us, and the protective impact this has our long-term health.

At Vitality360, we see the stress response as a normal response to a threat: our body simply ‘doing its thing’ and helping to prepare us for taking action. Nothing to fear, quite understood and understandable, and in many ways there to take care of us when we are in a challenging situation. However, we’ve enjoyed Kelly’s take on this, and agree that the experience of ‘courage’ or ‘joy’ might feel very similar to ‘stress’, and find the protective link between ‘seeking help from others’ and ‘improved resilience to stress’ very interesting and worth looking into further.

So, next time your heart is pounding or you are feeling tense and low, you can say to yourself ‘that’s my body telling me to be courageous, and helping me to overcome this challenge.” The stress response, by also releasing oxytocin, is also ‘asking you’ to call a friend and allow people to help, so be brave: let them in.


Sue Luscombe – Specialist Dietitian and Nutrition Consultant


Ahead of the Online Clinic on CFS, ME and Fibromyalgia, which is running from 14-20th August (click here for more info), we thought you might like to know a little more about Sue Luscombe, Vitality360’s Specialist Dietitian and Nutrition Consultant.

Sue’s interest in food and cooking, combined with wanting to work in a caring profession, led her to study Dietetics for 3 years in Leeds, (now Leeds Metropolitan University). Since qualifying she worked in several London teaching hospitals in different clinical and management roles, before moving to Bedfordshire. 10 years ago Sue’s NHS career had to take a back seat,  as she chose to work part-time to support her teenage daughter who was moderate-severely affected with ME and too unwell to attend school. Since then Sue has worked hard supporting those with ME and has a deep understanding and empathy for those affected.  She  is now recognised as one of the leading dietetic experts for ME in the UK.

To find out more about how Sue can help in your situation, please contact us or call 020 7263 5026



Online Clinic on CFS, ME and Fibromyalgia

From 14 – 20 August 2013 NHS Choices and talkhealth will team up with ME Association, Action for ME, AYME, CFS Research Foundation, FibroAction and Fibromyalgia Association UK to present an Online Clinic on CFS, ME and Fibromyalgia.

A team of clinical experts, including Vitality360’s Jessica Bavinton and Sue Luscombe amongst others, will be available to answer questions about issues surrounding CFS, Fibromyalgia and ME.

If you are affected by CFS, ME or Fibromyalgia and would like advice and help, this online clinic offers the opportunity to anonymously ask the panel of experts any questions you may have surrounding these conditions.

For more information about the clinic and details of how to participate, please click here.

To read more about Sue Luscombe’s Dietetic work, click here.

Please feel free to contact us for more information or help. 




Tennis for Visually Impaired Players

I was invited to umpire a rather unusual and utterly inspiring tennis tournament last year, and this year I had the privilege of playing in it.

This was the Metro national tennis tournament, organised for and by people with visual impairments (VI), also known as ‘VI tennis’. Much to my surprise, it is a fast and furious game.

Many people can’t see their opponent, so the rule is to always shout ‘ready?’ and when the opponent replies ‘yes’, the server will shout ‘play’ when the serve is about to be hit. Everyone is allowed two ball bounces, with those who have very low vision / totally blind being allowed three. The ball contains a bell or ball bearings, which gives the players the auditory input necessary to find the ball on the court.

As a Physio, I was astounded at their ability to stay upright as they ran towards a ball with significantly limited visual information, and the determination of those who did fall quite badly, obtain a huge carpet graze, and got straight back up again as if nothing had happened.

I was also amazed at the brain’s ability to find the ball so quickly and to somehow get the racket in the right place at the right time.

As well as the usual doubles and singles, the tournament also put on a mixed vision tournament, whereby a fully sighted player would partner up with a visually impaired player. I was invited to play by Paul, who has macular degeneration.

It took a bit of getting used to the shorter court, ball and racket (and I was only allowed one bounce and not allowed to volley), but it turned out to be a challenging and fun game.

Personally, I enjoy being around inspiring people undertaking great things. It’s also satisfying to support a new and emerging sport, and to teach newcomers how it all works. This is not just a sport, but a social opportunity for people who may have become quite isolated. I also recognise that if I were to lose my own sight and be unable to play tennis, I would suffer greatly so it’s a pleasure to be able to facilitate the sport.

Metro are trying to get the game into the Paralympics one day, and this year during the Paralympics showcased the sport at St. Paul’s cathedral. Funds are still required to develop the unique ball, and to ensure new players get the right coaching and opportunities. Physios may be in a perfect place to identify new players, or to signpost visually impaired people to this unique sporting opportunity.

The sport is very new, so finding more players is essential to further expand the game and ensure there are sufficient numbers of people to play competitively.

Maybe you know someone who is visually impaired, or have impairment yourself? Maybe you could help set up a group or help with sessions near you? Maybe you’d just like to be involved? If you or anyone you know would like to find out more about VI tennis, either as a participant or volunteer, see:



Graded Exercise Therapy Training Course

We recently returned from a training course we provided to NHS employees in the North East of England. Over the course of 2 days, the course, led by Jessica Bavinton, provided NHS staff from across several different disciplines, including Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Psychology, the opportunity to gain an insight into the concept of Graded Exercise Therapy, and its use in practise.

The course attendees also had the opportunity to gain valuable learnings by speaking via video conference directly to a past patient of Jessica’s who had previously suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and who’s life has been turned around by the implementation of a Graded Exercise Therapy programme.

Many of those attending the course had little or no previous experience with Graded Exercise Therapy, and the majority commented at the end of the course how confident they were to immediately start implementing some of the concepts and theories they’d learned on the course. Confidence levels in the use of Graded Exercise Therapy went from an average of 4.6 out of 10 before the course started to 8 out of 10 by the end of the course! A further day of training is scheduled for November 2013, where all the course attendees will return to share and discuss their experiences and findings with the use of Graded Exercise Therapy in their work since their two days of training. 




Know thyself and feel better

Someone I am working with was talking about my recent blog about ‘What Can I do and How?” and told me that this was not her problem. Trying to get motivated to do something, or overcoming a fear was not her experience, but rather the opposite: she didn’t know when to stop, until it was too late. How can she (and many of us in the same boat), learn to read her body’s signals and stop before we over-do things and feel worse? My own feeling is that it comes from that old chestnut “know thyself”. The better we understand ourselves, our habits, our symptoms, and our tendencies, our personality… our physiology and thought patterns, the response of our body… then the better equipped we are to understand what our body is telling us. So here’s my advice to anyone trying to work all of this out: go and explore – observe your activities, your responses – analyse, like scientist would: look at inter-connections, relationships, and speculate on what might be going on – then, when you have a theory, try it out. Do I feel better with exercise? Let’s see! Is it better if I go home a bit sooner rather than say longer? Let’s give it a try – note the results.  With a positive and inquisitive mind you’ll notice things you never realised were there, and in doing so you will gain much more control over your health than you ever thought possible.


Nick’s Recovery Story

Nick Thomas has recorded an in-depth interview outlining the key aspects to his recovery from CFS/ME and has shared this online via Secrets to Recovery for other people to gain inspiration from his story.

Please click here: Secrets to Recovery to hear story (52mins) 

In this open and frank interview in which he explores many important recovery topics such as restorative rest and relaxation, good nutrition, and a graded approach to exercise, he describes how he went from being a high-flying businessman to being unable to work due to CFS/ME.

During this interview (approx 30mins in to the story) he describes the difference Graded Exercise Therapy made to his recovery, and explains what it was like to undertake the programme. He describes how he started to get hopeful again, and that being able to see incremental and sustained improvements was a “major turning point”. He describes how getting into the swimming pool again was “massively liberating” as was being able to see changes to his strength, fitness and symptoms.

Nick describes himself as fully recovered after being unwell for many years, and has now set up his own business, Pear. Pear works with Organisations and individuals to build their employees’ Performance, Energy and Resilience through Coaching, Training and Consultancy.

Thank you, Nick, for sharing this with us: hearing direct, positive recovery stories is so important and show us not only that it’s possible, but also gives us a roadmap a to what we can do to make it possible.

Anyone wishing to find out more about Graded Exercise Therapy or to book on a programme, contact