I've pledged to be an Arthritis Champion and speak up in Parliament for people with arthritis so that people living with these conditions have their needs recognised.
I learnt about the huge impact that arthritis related conditions have on 17.8 million people across the UK, after attending a parliamentary event on Tuesday 20 March 2018.
It was shocking to learn that in Middlesbrough, 6,749 people aged over 45 live with osteoarthritis of the knee, 3,961 people aged over 45 live with osteoarthritis of the hip, and 15,411 live with back pain. Too many people locally are living with daily pain, fatigue, and isolation. This is unacceptable.
MPs who attended the event also met people living with arthritis, who explained how the condition can affect their lives in different ways – from going to work, to coping with the daily tasks such as cooking or driving that many of us take for granted.
The event coincided with the launch of Arthritis Research UK’s new ‘Ask Us’ campaign, which encourages those living with arthritis to reach out to the charity and ask questions about their condition. The campaign directs people to information and advice provided by the charity, which is based on many years of research and knowledge from experts and patients. This information and advice is provided via their online information, helpline, and online ‘Virtual Assistant’.
By working together with MPs like myself, the charity hopes to encourage people to find the answers to their queries from a source they can trust.
Jennylyn Williams, a campaigner and volunteer who spoke to MPs at the event, said, “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 every day.
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.”
I hope that my colleagues will join me in ensuring that constituents living with arthritis get the support they need, and I urge people affected to reach out to Arthritis Research UK for expert information. Together, we can do more to fight the devastating impact that arthritis has on the lives of more than 17.8 million people across the UK.
Shona Cleland, Public Affairs Manager at Arthritis Research UK, said: “It was great to see Mr McDonald at our event. Arthritis can cause severe pain and fatigue and its effects can be devastating. We believe 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.”
To find out more about the charity and to ask any question about arthritis please visit