Millions Missing ME awareness protest leaves a big footprint

The Millions Missing protest to raise awareness of the plight of people suffering with ME in Scotland was held at Holyrood on Friday.
ME sufferers leave their shoes outside the Scottish Parliament.ME sufferers leave their shoes outside the Scottish Parliament.
ME sufferers leave their shoes outside the Scottish Parliament.

Around 100 protesters joined the worldwide campaign being held in 13 cities including Edinburgh supported by the charity #MEAction.

Empty pairs of shoes were laid outside the Scottish Parliament to symbolise the millions of people with ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) who miss out on everyday life due to the symptoms if the illness often called - Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The protesters were demanding that the Scottish Government and NHS Health Scotland provide funding for biomedical research into ME and commit to the education of health professionals about the condition.

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Around 21,000 people in Scotland have been diagnosed with ME. This represents a greater number of patients than Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s combined. Janet Sylvester who helped organise the campaign with her daughter Emma, 24, who was struck down with ME in her first year of studying at St Andrews University said the protest sent a “powerful message”.

She said: “It went incredibly well, there were around 100 people – a lot of people with ME and carers were there.

“It was a powerful message of people coming to support Emma and hopefully going away with an awareness of what the campaign is trying to achieve. “There’s a lot of interest in keeping things going.

“There was quite a lot of press attention on my daughter Emma and she found it exhausting.

“She’s resting now and we’re going on holiday to Yorkshire this weekend – just to give her a complete rest for a week”

Stuart Murdoch, lead singer of Belle and Sebastian, who has ME and the author and playwright Ali Smith, gave their support to Millions Missing.

Ms Sylvester added: “Several of the people who have had ME for a long time said that this was a really positive protest and the start of something bigger. We took a 100 pairs of shoes to the Scottish Parliament and people kept bringing us more.

“A lot of people were stopping to look at the shoes. Right at the end of the protest a young lad of around 14 who had come straight from school was looking at the shoes and he found a pair his mum had sent us – she’d asked him to go – so that was really nice.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “The Scottish Government is working to ensure that people living with M.E. get the best possible care and support and services.”