Voices from the Shadows

Showing of Voices from the Shadows in Edinburgh

Showing of Voices from the Shadows in Edinburgh reported by MERUK

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 12.03.12The Cineworld complex at Fountain Park, Edinburgh, was the venue for a screening of the film Voices from the Shadows on Thursday 24th May 2012. Organised by the Edinburgh ME Self-help Group as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations, and taking place during ME Awareness month, the aim of the event was to raise awareness of the reality of severe ME, which is movingly conveyed in the film. A very large crowd of over 150 people had gathered for the free showing, and in attendance were Dr Nigel Speight, a paediatrician (now retired) who specialised in ME, and Dr Vance Spence of ME Research UK, who held a joint question and answer session after the showing.

As the audience watched, the one-hour feature documentary revealed itself to be as compelling and intensely moving as its billing had suggested. The voices of severely affected people with ME are rarely heard, despite the fact that many of them have a torrid time, and the film’s raison d’etre is to bring their plight to the attention of as many people as possible.

It has been 10 years since a report to the Chief Medical Officer (2002) pointed out that the most severely ill patients tend to be ““ignored and invisible””, and another 5 years since the NICE Guideline stated that patients’ symptoms can be just as ““disabling as multiple sclerosis, congestive heart failure and other chronic conditions””. Yet, the fact remains that the physical illness of severely affected patients is still ignored or discounted by some GPs and other healthcare professionals, and that the existence of severe forms of ME is still “severely overlooked by science”.

The film itself is an independent and self-funded project, and as the description explains, ““It is an act of witness, supported by concerned professionals who illuminate an injustice hidden in our midst. We see for ourselves the love, integrity, determination and courage of the contributors as they bravely share their stories. These are stories of life and death and although difficult to believe in this day and age, they are true: they happened. There are many, many others that remain untold.”

DVDs of this film are now available to order online, copies with educational and public screening rights are also available, and there have already been public screenings at a variety of locations at which this important film has been very well-received.

After the screening, most of the audience remained and joined the organisers and speakers for further discussion in an upper meeting room in the cinema. Congratulations are due to the makers and distributers of Voices from the Shadows, and to the committee of the Edinburgh ME Self-help Group for arranging the screening.