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MPs find out how to support constituents with arthritis

Published on 21 March 2018

A group shot of Arthritis Research UK staff at ParliamentOn Tuesday 20th March, Arthritis Research UK hosted its first parliamentary event of the year, sponsored by Andrew Bowie MP. The drop-in event attracted almost 50 MPs, alongside MP researchers, who came to find out how they can support constituents affected by arthritis.

Thank you to everyone who took our e-action in advance of the event, and asked their MP to attend. It certainly made a difference, with some MPs saying they only knew about the event because their constituent had raised it with them. If you’d like to support our work in this way, you can join our campaigner network.

MPs from across the UK spoke to people living with arthritis, learned about the services we offer, talked with our research team about our current projects and success stories, and discovered how many people in their constituency are affected by arthritis. Attendees also had the opportunity to try on our arthritis gloves which simulate the mobility restrictions arthritis can cause in hands.

Maureen and Jennylyn at ParliamentJennylyn, is a campaigner and local group volunteer who attended the drop-in to explain what it’s like to live with arthritis: “I enjoyed taking part in the parliamentary reception, and feel that it was good for MPs to meet someone in person with experience of the condition. I think many MPs were surprised by the fact I was diagnosed at 31, as well as learning about the impact the condition has on my body – especially my hands. I was able to explain to them what it's like to live with arthritis everyday. I was honoured to be a voice in parliament for the many people living with arthritis across the country. I hope that having met me, and hearing my story, MPs from all parties will be more likely to call for improvements for people with arthritis.”

Maureen, who lives with arthritis and is also a volunteer patient insight partner for our research team, supported the research stand where MPs were asked to take part in a game were they had to choose which research projects to invest in: Maureen shared “some MPs struggled to spend the million pounds that we gave them on the research station, and to decide which research projects should have priority. This activity made me even more aware of my responsibilities as a patient insight partner, where I consider grant awards of thousands, if not a millions, of pounds. MPs, many with arthritis themselves, certainly became aware of the pressing need for a charity such as Arthritis Research UK. I loved attending the event, and felt by being there I was making a difference."

Shona Cleland, Public Affairs Manager at Arthritis Research UK, said: “It was great to see so many MPs at our event. For many, arthritis is a serious condition which causes severe pain and fatigue. It can affect every aspect of someone’s life, from their physical and mental health, to their employment and family life. Our charity believes that all people with arthritis should have support to live full and active lives. To make this a reality, we need MPs to tell their constituents about the help on offer, raise awareness of arthritis in Parliament, and work to ensure that all people with arthritis get the services and support they need.”

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