Blog by Riyaz Bhaiyat

After many months of planning the day of the first Rheumatoid Arthritis Mela tailored for the South Asian community had finally arrived on the 13th October.

With an early start to make our way to Leicester Racecourse the NRAS team arrived at the venue bright and early. This allowed us to get set up for the busy and exciting day ahead.

As we approached 9.30 AM our guests began to arrive. After a warm greeting and registration they had the opportunity to start the morning right with some refreshments and conversation.

We were fortunate to have many healthcare professionals and Apni Jung board members join and support us on the day.

By 10.30 AM we decided to get the day’s activities started. We began with a friendly introduction of the guests and why they attended followed by a general Q and A with the healthcare professionals.

We covered some great topics such as medication in RA, research, discussing diagnosis with family members and many more. A story shared by Dr. Moorthy regarding a lady living with RA who had challenges and concerns with discussing her condition with her family was personally impactful to me and one that seemed to resonate with many of the guests.

Following an informative and thought provoking discussion, we were then joined by Atiya Kamal who delivered a presentation on the importance of stress and tools on managing stress. There were many tips that I myself have been using daily since, including a minute long mindfulness exercise.

At 1 PM we were treated to a delicious South Asian Lunch catered for by a local business that went down a treat for all in attendance. This was a great opportunity to sit down and have some informal conversation with many of our guests and learn more about them which was the highlight of the day for me. Many people shared with me how they had already gained so much just from the morning session and were looking forward to the afternoon’s content.

Speaking of afternoon content, after enjoying lunch and conversation we were then back in the hands of Clare Jacklin, CEO. She took the time to provide an update on all things NRAS including: Upcoming projects, NRAS resources, Right Start, Apni Jung and much more. Even working for NRAS, I always I’m amazed at the wealth of resources and support we offer to the RA/JIA community.

Finally, the last presentation of the day was one where we were all encouraged to join in. Ayesha Ahmed a Personal Trainer who also lives with RA shared with us a host of gentle exercises that we can all do to help better manage the symptoms of RA. It was great joining in with these activities and the highlight was certainly when we did dumbbell rows using a KTC tin of kidney beans something that I can say is definitely in my pantry.

We finished up by thanking our guests for attending and ensuring they all had copies of the relevant NRAS publications. It was lovely hearing the positive feedback that all the guests shared with some even asking the date of the next event because of how useful they found it.

It was a pleasure to hear from so many different specialists and attendees and with it we have taken away a whole host of learning points that will better equip us at NRAS to support the RA/JIA community further.