Invisible Illnesses (formerly Fibro & Us) is a registered Not for Profit in-person support and social group for those who suffer with an Invisible Illness, such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Depression and Chronic Fatigue, in WA. We understand what it’s like to feel alone while struggling with an invisible illness and support not only sufferers but those that support sufferers as well.
The group was founded by Michelle Greenwood in 2016 after establishing a need for a local support group for those who suffer with or support those with Fibromyalgia, in the Rockingham/Kwinana/Baldivis - Mandurah area. Michelle was approached by Rockingham City Councillor Matt Whitfield asking if there was a need for a support group as he would like to help set one up. After a meeting with Matt the group was formed. Matt helped pay for the initial set up costs.
Within a short period of time what was meant to be a small local group increased to include other areas from Perth and Western Australia. Our aim is to go national by 2021 using the same format that we have here in WA.
In 2019 it was decided that the group needed to be more inclusive, as people saw the word "Fibro" and felt they couldn't join us if they hadn't been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia but had other co-conditions. A new name of Invisible Illnesses what put forward and voted on with a unanimous decision by our members.
From the time the group was founded most Committee Members are those who have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia or other co-conditions. Because of the unpredictability of symptoms, we have tried to maintain a large Committee to minimise the workload on each Committee Member. All Committee Members work voluntarily and are rewarded by the fact that Invisible Illnesses Inc provides education, support, raising awareness and networking opportunities for several thousand people throughout Western Australia.
Over the last few years we have implemented many ideas making us a unique support group. We have an off-shoot group called "Helping Hands" which assists those who are having problems at home with housework, gardening etc. Our volunteers can also help with cooking, transport and shopping. We are a registered Centrelink approved organisation for those who have to volunteer for certain amount of hours to be able to receive their benefits. We also work with a number of disability groups, giving those with other conditions such as Autism a chance of volunteering and learning new skills.
We have a small team of volunteers that are currently working on finding information for GP’s, Specialists and other members of the medical and holistic field – Massage Therapists, Acupuncturists etc. Our eventual aim is to be able to send out surveys and information to be able to ascertain their knowledge of Fibromyalgia and other invisible illnesses so that we are able to make suitable recommendations to our members of those who are fibro friendly and non-judgemental. We would also invite them to our events and information sessions so they can learn more about different invisible illnesses and the challenges we deal with on a daily basis
Our roaming lunches are an informal get-together for people with an invisible illness and their supporters. They are a great opportunity to meet people who really do understand. These roaming lunches take place in various areas throughout the metro and spreading into rural areas. People can talk about anything and everything not just about their condition.
As well as our roaming lunches we hold numerous fundraising events throughout the year. Our most successful is generally our Quiz Nights. We also hold an annual Never Hide Your Wings Gala & Recognition Night in September. We frequently heard our members say that they couldn’t afford the cost of tickets, even though we have kept them at a minimal cost, so for to help those who wish to attend we offer a layby system so they can pay their ticket & accommodation off over 11 months.
We have started a Loyalty Program where we are asking business to give our members some sort of discount when they produce their membership card as well as placing a “We support Invisible Illnesses” poster in their windows.
During 2019 we started our Wellbeing Services, which we aim to extend. This will include having beauticians, nail techs, massage therapists, hairdressers etc volunteer their services. We currently have an amazing massage therapist who comes in for 2 days every fortnight.
2018 saw us partner up with Act Belong Commit as part of our mental health support. Not long after partnering with A-B-C we placed a Group Councillor onto our committee to help with those struggling with depression etc due to living in relentless pain. We aim to add more in different regions.
2019 will see us implement a number of new initiatives so that we can keep with the A-B-C practices. We will be working alongside a number of different businesses to help with our fitness group program offering our members different fitness classes such as Tai-Chi, Yoga, Chi Ball etc.
We are a self-funded group. Most of our income comes from membership fees, fundraising, grants and the few items we sell at different events. During 2019 we started a PopUp Op-Shop to help make us more sustainable, rather than relying on grants etc.
We constantly advocate the awareness of Invisible Illnesses by attending many different markets, fairs, shows etc through the metro & rural areas. We aim to attend many more including the Healthy Living Expo & the Perth Royal Show.
We have a very active, friendly and supportive Facebook group for our members who discuss symptoms, share information and resources.
We also have our public events page where we share all of our own events and fundraisers plus the markets we attend to raise awareness. We have created a website that we are growing and increasing the information that is put on it.
To help our continued growth we will be putting in different event teams so we can offer what we do in Rockingham to other regions throughout the metro and regional areas
December 2018 saw us acquire offices in Rockingham. You can visit us anytime at U10/3 Benjamin Way Rockingham (Behind AMF Bowling). Our office hours are Monday - Friday 9am - 3pm.
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