This World Health Day 2019, there are millions of people across the world that still have no access to health care at all.

Living in the UK, we are fortunate enough to be able to access the NHS for a multitude of health conditions, ailments and disabilities; but what about those of us that still struggle to find the help or relief we seek through the power of modern medicine? Many of us suffer daily, whether it be from pain, fatigue, or mental health conditions; challenges that often have no known ‘cure’. But does that mean that those of us that need help should continue to suffer in silence? Louise Dickson, the Founder and CEO of Illuminate Freedom, believes not.

My story
As a Fibromyalgia sufferer of over 20 years, a disability that presents chronic widespread pain and fatigue, and with a mother that became visually impaired during adulthood, I decided to try and take control of my own health, and others’ health too. As a trained dancer, teacher and personal exercise coach, I knew my body better than most of the doctors and consultants that I visited. Following a decade of being told that there was “nothing wrong with me” and that it was “all in my head”, I set about examining my own condition, lifestyle and possibilities for self-help. Dance, movement and gentle exercise became one of my lifelines, noticing the difference that it made to my physical pain and general wellbeing.

After years of trying to balance my condition and working various part-time roles, I applied to be a Personal Assistant to the Director of Extant, Britain’s leading performing arts company of blind and partially sighted people. I felt that the knowledge I had of my mother’s vision impairment would help in understanding the challenges experienced by other blind and partially sighted people, plus I could also apply my performing arts expertise. I began to see some similarities between myself and some of the blind and partially sighted people that I worked with; the experience of losing the freedom of movement and facing the daily battle of trying to manage both mind and body.

In 2015, I used my experience to create an organisation that could inspire, educate and empower myself and others living with sight loss and fibromyalgia, through the sharing of information, peer support and the power of dance, exercise, and movement. That was when Illuminate Freedom was born.

How can we help ourselves feel better?
Never underestimate the power of stress or feeling unhappy within ourselves. As the Mayo Clinic states: ‘Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realise it… You may think illness is to blame for that irritating headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work… But stress may actually be the cause.’

At Illuminate Freedom we deliver a range of fully accessible, audio-described programmes across London and the UK to support people with sight loss and fibromyalgia, and to alleviate some of these feelings of stress. We aim to improve health and wellbeing, and lessen feelings of isolation. Our programmes include Dance and Movement for Health, Fitness and Gentle Exercise, Posture Assessment and Falls Prevention, Massage Therapy, Freedom Events, Support Programmes and Presentations and Awareness Events. Everyone, no matter their ability or age, is welcome.

Image whos Louise at one of her classes, assisting one of the attendees with do an arm stretch.

Image shows Louise [right] helping an attendee at one of her classes.


To find out more and to sign up to one of our programmes or classes, contact us at: connect@illuminatefreedom.org, call our landline on 0333 772 0956 or call our mobile on 07852 886 100. You can also sign up to be notified of when our new website is ready at here and join our mailing list here. If you are a sight loss organisation, please subscribe to our mailing list here.

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