Corporate news

Celebrating the launch of our partnership with The Knitting Network

This March, The Knitting Network is supporting Versus Arthritis as their charity of the month. Throughout March, every time you shop online with them, you’ll be able to round up your order to the nearest pound and donate the difference to Versus Arthritis. In addition, The Knitting Network will also generously match fund all the donations they receive through this platform. This means that your gift will make twice the difference to Versus Arthritis and our services.

Alongside this partnership, Versus Arthritis are launching the knit-a-thon. This virtual fundraising challenge is simple: pick up your knitting needles or crotchet hook and knit for as long as you can to support the 10 million people living with arthritis. You can adapt the challenge to suit you, whether you’re an experienced knitter or this is your first attempt – everyone is welcome! Why not purchase your knit-a-thon supplies from The Knitting Network and support us in funding ground-breaking research and services?

We are grateful to The Knitting Network for their support and look forward to working together.

Celebrating our partnership with the Bioindustry Association

In 2019, the Bioindustry Association (BIA) announced Versus Arthritis would be their 2020 charity of the year.

The aim of our partnership was to develop a strategic relationship with BIA and the life science industry, whilst promoting musculoskeletal research, building relationships to help develop improvements for people with arthritis and raising vital funds.

Despite working through a challenging year, together we’ve raised just under £22,000 for our work which will make a huge difference to people with arthritis. Plus, we’ve taken part in a variety of activities which have involved promoting our ground-breaking research on pain, our drug discovery work and the importance of working with patients to gain insight.

Partnership highlights

The BIA gala dinner generated significant funds for Versus Arthritis and allowed us to connect with leaders from across the bioindustry. It also provided an opportunity for on e of our Patient Insight Partners, Jane Taylor, to share her experiences of living with arthritis.

The coronavirus pandemic presented unprecedented challenges. However, we successfully adapted and delivered a series of virtual events to engage the BIA community with our work, including bespoke webinars and conferences.

Learning more together

We’ve loved working with BIA over this last year. They've generously provided us with a platform to share our work and knowledge and to raise awareness of arthritis.

As we look ahead to the future, we’re excited to continue working with BIA and the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC).

Our aim is to bring research charities and BIA’s members closer together in 2021 and we’re looking forward to continuing to work in partnership to keep people with arthritis at the centre of our research, do more to develop of better drugs and treatments and promote the latest self-management advice.

Thank you to BIA for a brilliant year of partnership, and we’re looking forward to working with you in 2021 and beyond!

A partnership driving digital empowerment

We are delighted to have had the support of Janssen in 2020. Thanks to their generous donation, we have been able to develop two of our most ground-breaking projects, COVA and Arthritis Tracker.

With the UK in lockdown and a surge in demand for our support and information services, we created COVA, our pioneering COVID-19 Virtual Assistant. The first of its kind, COVA gives people with arthritis specialised information about the pandemic, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Since its launch COVA has generated 7,300 conversations, helping people with arthritis access personalised answers on medication, government advice on shielding, self-isolation, maintaining mental and physical health, and managing work and finances.

Young people too have driven our digital transformation. In May 2020, we launched our Arthritis Tracker, an innovative smartphone app co-created with young people.

15,000 young people with juvenile idiopathic arthritis experience unpredictable flares of pain and fatigue, increased anxiety and depression, and the isolation of not knowing anyone else with their condition. Many struggle to tell doctors how they have been feeling in the months between their medical appointments and find it hard to remember to take medication.

Our Arthritis Tracker app enables young people aged 13 to 25 manage their symptoms by tracking sore joints, pain, sleep and more. The app creates a summary which can then be shared, enabling young people to report a much more accurate picture of their condition and get the most out of their appointments with health professionals.

Since launch, the app has seen 6748 new users and over 4000 young people are now continuously using the app.

Thanks to Janssen, these innovative tools will enable us to continue to reach, support and empower millions of people with arthritis, young and old – and meet our mutual aim to help people live happier and healthier lives.

Janssen, Johnson and Johnson logo

Versus Arthritis launches a pioneering partnership to support healthcare professionals

Many people with arthritis take drugs that suppress their immune systems, making them among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. As a result, in March 2020, over 1.2m people were asked by the NHS to shield themselves from wider society. During this time, they could not leave their homes, even for essentials; they could not visit their healthcare professionals for treatment or advice. Many continue to shield to this day.

This produces a new challenge – how would healthcare professionals best tend to the needs of their patients? What could we do to better support healthcare professionals providing much needed care to those now isolated in their homes?

Recognising the need to provide signposting for healthcare professionals treating people with arthritis, we’re delighted to have partnered with the British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) to develop a version of the COVA chatbot specifically for healthcare professionals. In just three weeks, we worked closely to develop and launch a bespoke chatbot for BSR in just 3 weeks, which was launched in June 2020.

In the first six months of the partnership, the chatbot has hosted over 2,200 conversations with healthcare professionals looking for extra support and advice. We continue to work in close partnership with the BSR team, and our internal teams continue to update and amend advice according to government guidelines under ever-changing and fast-moving circumstances.

Our partnership with BSR provides a vital resource to both patient and healthcare professionals during these unprecedented times. Please get in touch with us to find out more about how we could utilise our products to help your business and customers with arthritis during this time – corporatepartners@versusarthritis.org.

Partners throw their support behind our COVID-19 appeal

When the UK went into its first national lockdown in March 2020, 1.2 million people with arthritis were forced to shield. Combined with the uncertainty of the realities of the virus and its impact on wider society, many people with arthritis desperately needed extra support.

However, cancelled fundraising events and a drop in donations meant that the financial impact of the virus was huge. Financial support was decreasing, but the demand for our support services dramatically increased and we were struggling to meet the surge in demand.

As a result, we launched our COVID-19 appeal to help us ensure we could support as many people with arthritis during this unprecedented time. Thanks to generous funders including AbbVie, Eli Lilly, MSD UK, Waitrose, Pfizer and Gilead, we secured nearly £100,000 in donations to help us fund these vital services and ensure we were there for everyone who needed us.

The support of these incredible businesses allowed us to quickly train and re-deploy over 40 team members onto the helpline to answer support calls and emails. Plus, we were able to begin developing a brand new chatbot to provide COVID-19 advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

We’re so grateful to all the incredible businesses that donated to our COVID19 appeal; thanks to them, we’ve ensured that we can answer every call for help and developed our service to support our community during multiple lockdowns. Thank you to everyone who supported our COVID-19 appeal – you've helped us to make this really difficult time a little easier for those affected by arthritis.

Want to find out more about how your business can make a difference to people with arthritis? Please contact us on corporatepartners@versusarthritis.org.