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Joint Effort reaps rewards

Published on 07 January 2014
Source: Arthritis Today
Krystyna La Roche looks back on the success of our National Arthritis Week.

National Arthritis Week 2013October 7-13 was National Arthritis Week, our annual campaign which aims to raise awareness of the impact of arthritis. This year’s theme was about us all making a Joint Effort (pun intended!) to have as big an effect as possible.

From political party leaders backing the week to toddlers taking part in sponsored buggy walks, we were joined by thousands of you across the country and wanted to say thank you so much for your support.

You told us in the National Arthritis Survey 2012 that one of the biggest difficulties of living with arthritis is the impact of pain and stiffness on daily activities like household chores, walking and even simple actions like brushing your teeth. Most people have experienced the occasional irritation of things like fiddly packaging or buttons, so for National Arthritis Week we wanted to encourage the general public to imagine how it would feel if they had to experience frustrations like these not only on a daily basis but coupled with pain.

With this in mind, we launched National Arthritis Week with a media story about the nation’s top frustrations. Unsurprisingly, our survey showed bad manners were the biggest annoyance in Britain but, interestingly, many people’s top frustrations related to not being able to do things such as sleeping properly, using gadgets or getting from A to B easily.

The survey respondents were also asked to imagine how they would feel if they couldn't do some of the simple tasks many people with arthritis struggle with due to joint pain. Results showed:
  • three quarters of people would be annoyed if they had difficulty walking (73%), getting dressed (72%), or doing basic household tasks like cooking, cleaning or washing dishes (70%)
  • two thirds (67%) would be annoyed if they could not open containers 
  • and more people would be frustrated by not being able to make a cup of tea (62%), than the number who would be frustrated by difficulty having sex (55%)

Izzy Falcon, supporting National Arthritis Week Across the week we shared lots of real-life stories in the media and at awareness events to bring these frustrations to life. Twenty-four-year-old Izzy Falcon from London was one of many people who shared their experiences to support National Arthritis Week. She said:  
“Living with arthritis has changed many aspects of my life. I find it hard to have a bath because of the stiffness, and lack of mobility in my knees and my hands make it hard to shower, wash up or cook. Even the simplest of things like opening bottles and holding the kettle can be really difficult.” 

Along with raising awareness via events and the media, we were delighted to receive a significant donation of video advertising space in 18 major railway stations across the UK. We used the opportunity to encourage commuters in eight cities and towns to imagine what it would feel like to experience so much pain and stiffness that they could not hold their morning cup of coffee, and urged them to visit our website to find out more about the realities of living with arthritis. We also produced another special video for National Arthritis Week, featuring three people’s real-life stories to show that arthritis canaffect you at any age. Our eye-catching video at Victoria station in LondonYoung classical singer Carrie shared her experiences of living with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome; David talked about his juvenile idiopathic arthritis and playing powerchair football on a national level and sporty Martin explained how exercise has helped him manage osteoarthritis. You can watch both videos on our YouTube channel

That’s not all! Across National Arthritis Week we also

  • Staff from our North Walsham charity shop in Norfolk gearing themselves up for National Arthritis Week  created an interactive Joint Effort pledge wall on our website to help people learn about arthritis and the practical things they can do to make day-to-day activities a little easier 
  • urged GPs to take our musculoskeletal skills training programme
  • took part in a webinar for exercise professionals to help them learn more about exercise and arthritis
  • held a reception at the House of Commons to encourage MPs and peers to learn about the impact of arthritis 
  • launched this year’s National Arthritis Survey – keep your eyes peeled for the results!
  • held lots of fundraising and information events up and down the country and in our shops. 
Katie Rodd One star supporter was Katie Rodd who organised a jam-packed week of activities in Southport to fundraise and raise awareness of the fact that children and young adults can be affected by arthritis.

Katie started the week by placing Arthritis Research UK collecting tins in local shops, selling Christmas raffle tickets, rounding up donations for an auction and encouraging people to visit our Joint Effort pledge wall online.  

She also organised ‘wear orange’ Zumba and exercise classes at her local leisure centre, a fundraising auction, a charity collection at Southport Theatre and Convention Centre and a special event on World Arthritis Day at Southport Youth Drama Academy, where her friends and family helped organise a collection, cake sales and lots of games with the 62nd Scout Group. The week was rounded off with the Phoenix pub in Southport hosting a fantastic quiz night and raffle.  

Katie raised £920 throughout the week and commented: “I was overwhelmed by all the support during the week and would like to thank all the companies and everyone else who donated, supported and helped me! Arthritis Research UK is an amazing charity. I grew up with arthritis and for a long time it felt like nobody was able to put themselves in my shoes and understand the whole extent of my condition. I want to help spread awareness so more people know about arthritis and aim to be a role model for children and young adults who are affected, as I don’t want them to go through what I did.”

Researchers from Birmingham University, who took part in a sponsored bike rideWhether you organised a bake sale, shared your Joint Effort pledge on our pledge wall or even simply told someone about what it’s like to live with arthritis, thank you so much for your support and helping us raise awareness this National Arthritis Week. We’ll keep you posted on plans for 2014!

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