Leeds mum sets up charity to help those suffering with long Covid
A Leeds mum who suffered the debilitating effects of long Covid has made it her mission to help others struggling with the condition.
Valentina Viduto, 35, a mum-of-three of Rawdon, has set up a charity called the Long Covid Foundation which she hopes will act as a “knowledge base” featuring expert advice from across the globe as well as championing the needs of those suffering.
Estimates suggest two to five per cent of people who test positive for Covid-19 will go on to develop long Covid - where symptoms continue beyond three months.
Valentina was one of those, after the virus swept through her family in the very early days of the pandemic.
She said: “February and March time, my family was ill. My children got gastrointestinal issues, really sore throat, chesty cough.
“Then me and my husband. At the time I was breastfeeding a newborn. We didn’t have tests because you struggled in those days.
“By the summer time I was still struggling with breathing issues and struggling to do things in the way I used to.
“I started to look for specialists who could give advice on what to do. I had to do it as there was no-one who could help us. I had to clean and cook and play with the children, especially with a little newborn. I couldn’t stay in bed all day. Mentally I was exhausted.
“I gathered a lot of knowledge from outside the UK; people who at the time clearly saw there was an issue with recovering after things go past that acute stage, which can last two weeks, for example.
“And then I started to think about how best to help people like myself. I started creating a network of people who are medical or who are scientists to discuss questions - what are the symptoms and how best to support these.”
She went on to set up a Facebook group for people recovering from long Covid and began a YouTube channel, posting two vlogs a week featuring the latest information and advice as well as interviews with Dr Ancha Baranova, a biomedical specialist at George Mason University in Washington, USA.
But her strong desire to help those suffering with long Covid spurred her on to apply to become a charity, with a vision to raise awareness of the condition, educate others, find solutions to help ease symptoms, and campaign on behalf of those suffering.
All this while also being a busy mum-of-three and running her own cyber security firm.
But Valentina, who has a PhD in computer science, said she recognised the "vital need" for increased knowledge around the condition.
And the Charity Commission confirmed to the Yorkshire Evening Post that the Long Covid Foundation is currently the only charity with "Long Covid" in the title.
Valentina said: "I see that there is a vital need in knowledge and education for all - medical practitioners, current patients, Long Covid sufferers and their families.”
She added: “The charity’s vision is we are paving the way to a world where no life is lost or ruined by coronavirus.”
She said long Covid appears to have over 100 symptoms associated with it and her group’s members report anything from tinnitus to vision problems to migraines.
She said: “People are at different stages of recovery. We have people who have been ill for a year. Most of them are eight months after contracting Covid. Some have contracted Covid twice or three times.”
On the ‘Long Covid Foundation’ Facebook page, Valentina posts the latest research papers, news articles as well as links to her YouTube vlogs.
She said: “The aim is to understand long Covid syndrome better. I wanted to spread understanding about it. As a foundation I want to get involved in the policy changes and worldwide acceptance.
“There should be a unified treatment protocol. This is one of the aims of the Foundation - to get this unified existence.”
The Long Covid Foundation website is at: https://longcovidfdn.com/
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