A support group that works for you
We believe that Breathe Easy groups are vital spaces to provide support and information to people living with lung conditions. That’s why we are committed to supporting the groups in all 4 nations of the UK.
When we reviewed our plan, we listened to what you had to say and reviewed how the groups were operating. Many groups said they wanted greater autonomy and freedom, particularly with regards to their finances.
As a result, we recognised the need for the Breathe Easy group model to evolve so groups can run in a way that suits them.
That’s why all Breathe Easy groups will now have the choice between 3 models. We’ll be there every step of the way to support your group in their decision.
The three models are: integrated group, affiliated group, and independent group.
BLF support group
BLF support groups are based on the Integrated Breathe Easy (IBE) model. They will continue to have direct support from our team in Liverpool and they will be able to use the BLF brand. They will also have access to a new online virtual learning and support hub to provide support materials, advice and information. Integrated groups will sign an agreement with the BLF, outlining what the BLF will do for them and what is expected from the group.
Affiliated Breathe Easy group
Affiliated Breathe Easy groups will run independently but still remain a part of the BLF family. This gives groups greater local control. An affiliated brand will be developed for them. They will be able to raise funds for local health services, the BLF and other organisations to promote better lung health. They will also have access to our new online virtual learning and support hub. They will agree to broadly support the BLF’s aims and principles.
Independent groups will be fully independent from the BLF. These groups can choose to continue as a local lung health support group but will no longer be linked with the BLF. Our helpline, health information and other services will always be available to them.
What happens next
It’ll take about 2 years for all Breathe Easy groups to decide and be supported in their choice. We will be working closely with each group. You’ll be able to discuss the options and decide the best option for your group at your own pace, so there’s no rush.
During this time, we’ll also develop an online hub to support integrated and affiliated groups.
To help you choose, you’ll get a support pack and a meeting with a group support officer to discuss the options. When you’ve decided, you’ll get help and support to make it happen.
We’re keen to learn how this works with groups in the first wave of the transition and adapt the process to suit groups.
Where to get more information
If your group would like to be one of the early adopters of either an integrated group or an affiliated group, please get in touch with the group support team in Liverpool. Email them at [email protected] or call them on 0300 3030 253.
If you have any questions, please see our Breathe Easy FAQ.
A message from Teresa
"The BLF is offering groups new opportunities and ways of working. These give our groups choice, more freedom and autonomy.
"Over the past 10 years, I’ve really enjoyed being involved in BE groups - I know firsthand the trials and tribulations of running a group. It’s not always easy, and I appreciate the time and effort that a lot of people give to their groups.
"Every group is different. Each has its own priorities and ways of working.
"I know we’ll all want to give the options plenty of consideration, so we can make the right decision about how our groups will operate in the future.
"I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved over the years. This is now an opportunity to continue to make a difference for our members in a way that works for each group.
"I fully support the plan for change. It’s an opportunity for groups to choose the best way to continue to support members, and to make a difference for everyone affected by a lung condition.
Teresa, secretary for Nottingham West BLF support group and BLF Trustee
A message from John
"I believe these changes will enable us – volunteers – to devote more time to what really matters to us. We want to support people with lung conditions, signpost the ways patients can get better care, and raise awareness of lung disease and how it changes lives.
"BE groups may want to take the opportunity to follow the integrated Breathe Easy model. This means close ties to the BLF, including raising funds to support its vital research, patient support services and policy work. These groups will have the support of the Liverpool-based team and an online virtual learning and support hub too. They’ll be able to use the BLF charity number and brand. The BLF’s finance team will run their bank account. This will allow groups’ treasurers to spend more time on group activities.
"The change in emphasis can give groups the freedom to support their local NHS respiratory service by becoming an affiliated group. For example, by raising funds for equipment that will benefit patients, which isn’t permitted under current rules. If groups chose the new affiliate status, they will benefit from continued support through an online virtual learning and support hub. But they’ll no longer need to make quarterly returns to the BLF – and so freeing up treasurers’ time. They’ll run their own bank account.
"Groups can also choose to become independent and go their own way.
"I fully support these changes and look forward to continuing to work for the benefit of everyone with a lung disease.
John, treasurer for Basingstoke and District BLF support group, and BLF Trustee