Joyce Savage, Trust and Statutory Fundraising Officer for Arthritis Research UK in Belfast, in a thought-provoking address to the Club Monday 13 August particularly highlighted that Arthritis Research UK and Arthritis Care, who have a shared ambition to support people with arthritis to live full and active lives, joined together last November to do more to have a greater impact on the 10m people currently living with the condition by: changing attitudes towards arthritis and providing more and better support and research for treatments, interventions and cures. She covered the main types of arthritis noting that it can occur at any age but occurs most in the 40-60 age group with 1 in 5 people having some form of it. In NI 465,637 people are living with a chronic musculoskeletal condition; 7.5m working days are lost each year, 600 children have Junior Arthritis (JIA) and there are 80 new families each year.
She pointed out that Arthritis Care helps people to recognise the early signs of arthritis, get diagnosed, and manage their condition well. It has branches and groups across the UK and offers people with arthritis information and support through face-to-face services, its helpline and an online community for people affected by arthritis. However she particularly dealt with their help for children and the website tooyoungforarthritis.com an online community support network. The NI project started 20 years ago and is the national flagship. Sufferers can get tips, meet and talk in a safe environment online to others with the same condition and get invited to special events, fun days etc.; there is also online support for parents of children with arthritis. She noted that they work closely with Musgrave Park paediatric rheumatology clinics and particularly focus on support and pain management trying to avoid medication. She concluded noting that they also run Adult courses.