Campaigning for change this winter

10 December 2020
A lady filling out paperwork and standing by her car.

Last month, more than 1500 of you took the time to tell us your concerns and worries about the second lockdown, coronavirus and the future. This will be a key part of shaping our work, and the stories you’ve told us will be a driving force in how we influence decision makers.

Your experiences matter

We’ve used the insights from your responses to finalise our evidence submission for the ‘Coronavirus: lessons learnt’ joint inquiry by the Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committee.

The voices of people with arthritis and related conditions are at the centre of our evidence as decision makers look at impact of COVID-19 and what could be done different in the future.

Two thirds of people who responded told us that one of their main concerns was being able to access non-COVID-19 health services, and many of your stories shared experiences of delays in getting appointments with GPs, rheumatologists, physiotherapists, and other healthcare professionals.

As well as feeding these experiences to the APPG on Coronavirus, we are part of the Elective Care Taskforce for NHS England, working to restart life changing joint replacement surgeries for people with arthritis.

Influencing government across the UK

Our Impossible to Ignore campaign has been running for a few months and already 30,000 of you have signed our petition calling for a national plan to bring down waiting times for joint replacement surgeries.

In Wales, we’re working with the Royal College of Surgeons to influence the Welsh Government on waiting times for elective orthopaedic services. As a member of the Welsh Government’s MSK Steering Group, we’re working directly with decision makers to ensure that people with arthritis and related conditions have access to the support and services they need.

Amongst our supporters who were classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, or who took the decision to shield during the second lockdown,’ , half said that one of their main concerns was with the communication and support that had been made available for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

We’re here for you

We’ve been regularly updating our COVID-19 information with the latest guidance for each nation, so that you have clear information to help you keep safe.

We’re working on improving our communications to support those of you who are in the vulnerable groups.

In England, we’ve joined the Shielding and High-Risk Coalition, and we’re a member of the Welsh Government’s Shielding Stakeholders Group. Working with other organisations and decision makers to engage with and feedback on the guidance and support for people who are clinically vulnerable.

Looking after your wellbeing

We know that the pandemic restrictions and lockdowns have had a massive impact on the lives of people with arthritis. This is particularly true when it comes to physical and mental health. People told us they were worried about:

  • their mental health
  • their mobility and staying active
  • the impact on their physical health and managing their pain.

We’ve been working across the UK to support people with arthritis with their physical and mental health. This includes:

  • Our ‘Let’s Move With Leon’ exercise programme
  • Online self-management programmes in Northern Ireland
  • Virtual sessions (yoga, mindfulness, etc.) and peer support in Wales
  • Promoting online options to keep active, such as the Good Boost app
  • Encouraging access to self-management tools like our ESCAPE-PAIN programmes.

Thank you

Your voices have been a crucial part of shaping our influencing work, and your stories have been our most effective tool in pushing for real change. We would like to thank you for making yourselves heard.

Get in touch

If you’re feeling isolated from family and friends during these uncertain times, we’re here for you.

  • If you would like to talk to someone, you can call our free helpline on 0800 5200 520 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm).
  • Chat to our Arthritis Virtual Assistant.
  • Join our online community.
  • Stay in touch and follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.