The young people and families service

The young people and families service started supporting young people with arthritis and their families in Northern Ireland more than 20 years ago. It has gradually grown across all four nations.

Relationships with health professionals are critical to the success of the service. These partnerships range from us delivering information sessions in clinic waiting areas, to having honorary contracts with specialist paediatric rheumatology clinics, and co-facilitating workshops and support sessions with nurses, OT’s and physios.

But meeting young people with arthritis in a hospital environment is not enough.

With an prevalence of 1:1000, young people with arthritis are unlikely to meet another young person with a similar condition by chance.

"It was the best thing I could have done to come to events. It has boosted my confidence, I am happier and more comfortable with my condition."

Participant age 17

At an event 83% reported they have not had the opportunity to meet other young people living with arthritis before. The emotional impact of this is huge, they described this as making them feel disappointed, lonely and unsure.

To help young people and their families feel less isolated we provide peer support opportunities through a variety of events. These include;

  • Residential activity weekends where young people have the opportunity to engage in activities from archery to zip-wiring
  • Workshops covering issues such as self management, education/careers, communication, relationships and sexual health (Scotland only)
  • Family events where the whole family are invited to participate.

All our events are supported by a team of fully trained peer support volunteers who have a lived experience of arthritis.

Events are open to 10-25 year olds with arthritis, the specific age range and events available varies across the nations.

Young people can self-refer to the service or be referred by a carer or professional with their agreement.

You can find details of the services using our face to face services finder.