“The rewarding feeling of volunteering and campaigning for what you believe in is unmatchable.”

Kath and Georgia holding up Versus Arthritis signs.

My name is Georgia and I am Versus Arthritis.

Having only recently turned 20, it still comes as a shock to many people when they hear that I’ve had arthritis since I was 8 years old.

It was the swelling of my thumb joint that alarmed the doctors and I was later diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. It's been 12 years of treatments, appointments, injections, diagnosis changes, blood tests and lots of pain.

I am currently a student at the University of Worcester, studying Education Studies and English Language. I’m hoping to work within an educational setting and support the mental health and wellbeing of students, as this was something I was extremely grateful to receive from educators when I have been poorly.

My experiences with employment have been hit and miss across many different jobs, however, my determination and passion to achieve the career I want has fuelled me to fight for and make a difference to the working lives of people with chronic illnesses, like arthritis.

“I was given to opportunity to meet with MPs at Westminster and tell them about the impact arthritis has had on my life.”

Having worked closely with Versus Arthritis for a number of years, sharing my story and having support from their services, I was honoured to have been invited to their parliamentary reception on Tuesday 2 July to launch their new report on employment and arthritis – Working it out: Demanding more from the Access to Work scheme.

At the event I had the chance to speak to MPs, telling them about the impact that arthritis has had on my life, my mixed experiences in the workplace and what needs to happen to make sure I can pursue my career after university.

Whilst meeting an array of MPs, charity workers and members of the Versus Arthritis team, it was also a privilege to meet Katharine and Robin who were also fellow ambassadors like myself, all hoping to make a difference on that day.

Katharine gave a moving and powerful speech that inspired us all in that room to keep smiling and never give up. I was touched by her story and the willpower she encompasses. She will forever be someone I look up to.

“I want to make a difference.”

The event was inspirational and extremely rewarding. It was incredible to share my story and fight hard with the team of volunteers to make crucial differences to the lives of people living with arthritis. 

To be the voice for thousands of people with arthritis was an honour I won’t be forgetting it any time soon.

I am so proud of the impact I have had on others by campaigning for Versus Arthritis. I have been inspired to be the best version of myself by a fellow teacher who I was working with whilst volunteering, who has shown me how the purest soul and kindest heart can change lives of all those you touch. She showed me how just being true to who we are can really inspire others. 

I am so grateful for my position in representing young people and I assure to carry on with passion and determination.

“Please join the Versus Arthritis campaigns network and make a difference too.”

The rewarding feeling of volunteering for Versus Arthritis and campaigning for what you believe in is unmatchable. To be able to relate to millions of stories and experiences is one thing, but to make the differences that are so crucial to so many lives is indescribable. I would encourage anyone to achieve this feeling by becoming a campaigner.