Stroke Awareness Month: Make May Purple

By: Rachel Hopkins

Marketing Officer

Thursday 11 May 2017

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Taking place every year in May, the Stroke Association aims to raise awareness of strokes and the effects felt by those individuals who they afflict, and the impact on friends and families through their ‘Make May Purple’ campaign. They honour this month by encouraging fundraising to continue the research into prevention, and to develop recovery methods to best enable stroke survivors to rebuild their lives.

Stroke is the fourth single leading cause of death in the UK and the leading cause of disability. Greater understanding of the symptoms and what the implications are when treatment is not quickly received is vital to ensuring that those affected by stroke have the best possible chance of recovery.

At NCFE, we worked in partnership with Skills for Care and Development (the Sector Skills Council) alongside the National NHS Stroke Improvement Lead to develop our Level 2 Award in Stroke Awareness.  The qualification was developed to support the National Stroke Specific Education Framework and aims to help learners know the different types of stroke, their signs and symptoms, and how to respond in an emergency stroke incident.

The Stroke Association added to the importance of this knowledge by stating that “more people than ever before are surviving stroke and they rely on the care and support from well-trained health and social care professionals, to help them recover and regain control of their lives.

“The NCFE Level 2 Certificate in Stroke Awareness provides much needed knowledge and skills to those working with stroke survivors and people at risk of stroke. Learning how to prevent stroke, recognising the signs if it does happen, knowing how to respond and being able to provide appropriate care is vital training for all social care professionals. Being stroke aware can make the difference between life and death.”

Polly Reed, Assistant Director, Stroke Training, said: “Stroke strikes in an instant but its effects last a lifetime. With the right training and skills, social care professionals can improve their quality of service and ultimately, improve the lives of those affected by stroke.” 

Karen Horton, a tutor at Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education, said of delivering the qualification: “The learners enjoyed their learning and quickly recognised the meaning of the key term – FAST – challenging each other to remember what it means.”

This is particularly encouraging to hear as one of the key elements of the ‘Make May Purple’ campaign is to equip people with the ability to recognise the symptoms of a stroke and seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

The benefit of the month-long campaign is not limited to knowing what to do in the event of a stroke, but also highlights the importance of positive lifestyle choice as a preventative method. Although anyone can have a stroke, and there are risk factors you cannot change such as race and gender, there are some ways in which to control risk factors presented by an unhealthy lifestyle. Exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet, cutting down on alcohol and avoiding smoking all contribute to reducing your risk of stroke.

As part of their study, learners who undertake the Level 2 in Mental Health Awareness spend time discussing and learning about these risk factors, and why they might increase the risk of stroke, which in turn made them think about their own personal choices. Karen added: “They began to consider their own health, that of their families and what health issues they could face in the future if they continued with negative lifestyle choices. The learners discussed how little exercise they did, they considered their own diets and how much fast food they ate.”

As one of the leading causes of death in the UK, it’s hugely important that throughout May, people are encouraged to take away information that could help them or others around them in the future.  

Facts about stroke:

  • A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off 
  • Every two seconds, someone in the world will have a stroke
  • There are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year
  • Stroke is a leading cause of disability in the UK
  • Stroke is the third leading cause of death for women, compared to the fifth for men.

If you’d like to know more about how you can support the Stroke Association to enable them to invest in research that will help to save lives and enable stroke survivors to make the best possible recovery, visit

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