LUNG disease sufferers have raised awareness of their conditions as part of a national campaign.
Breathe Easy Week, which started on Monday and ends on Sunday, is run by the British Lung Foundation.
The national event aims to provide advice for people suffering with any lung condition, from asthma to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
In Sunderland, a group of patients who run South Hylton Breathing Support Group, at South Hylton Surgery, took part by holding a coffee afternoon.
Emma Barnett, senior medical adviser at the surgery, said: “It started off where they just used to come and tell each other their problems.
“Now it’s more social, and a good way for the members to find out all kinds of information which can help them.”
The group, which has been running for a year, has had guest speakers from the foundation, Sunderland Carers’ Centre, and Sunderland Royal Hospital dietician Fiona Birch, among others.
For COPD sufferer Alan Bainbridge, 61, of Humbledon, it has been a lifeline, and he has attended sessions since it was launched.
“It has helped me tremendously,” he said.
“I got COPD in 2003, after I had lung cancer. You think you are unique with it, but when you talk to the other people with it, you realise you are not alone, and when you hear from them, it helps you to cope.
“It’s changed things for me, and it’s been one of the most helpful things I’ve done.
“All the information you get about breathing techniques and how to suppress the condition help me to cope.
“We are like a little community, and the nurses are there to help you if you have a problem too.”
British Lung Foundation development officer Lisa Wells attended the event, which also raised money for the charity.
“The group has done such a good job of raising awareness, she said.
“The group are in the capable hands of the surgery staff, and are doing wonders in terms of providing support and information.”