Its about making change happen


Spotlight Its about making change happen Our Campaigns Manager, Fern Howard, ensures people with arthritis have a voice, and their issues are on the political agenda Interview: Phil Lattimore I got involved volunteering in the charity sector, in a campaigns role, around the time I left university. I was motivated by personal experiences seeing how issues affect people and the struggles they face. I was inspired by seeing how charities were able to champion peoples experiences, amplify their voices and make a difference. I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in campaigning and helping people to demand change. I worked at the Alzheimers Society for around seven years before joining Versus Arthritis. My mum has osteoporosis and I have a school friend who has rheumatoid arthritis. It struck me how arthritis can affect anyone of any age, and how their issues were often dismissed or trivialised. Its been really important to listen to peoples challenges and concerns We have a Versus Arthritis Campaigns Network of around 20,000 people who have signed up to take quick and easy online actions such as signing petitions or writing to their MPs, or sharing experiences with us so that we can use their stories to influence government. A lot of our work is thinking about how we activate our community, how we listen to them, and how we can get them involved. The most important part is speaking to people who are affected by the issues were campaigning on, and finding out how we can support people to get involved. That might be helping someone prepare to take part in a media interview or talking at a parliamentary committee speaking to a roomful of MPs about why they need to take action on something. What we often find is that people dont necessarily know their rights or feel they cant speak openly about their pain or struggles. So its giving people the confidence to do that. Over the course of the pandemic, especially, its been really important to listen to peoples challenges and concerns and make sure were feeding those experiences into government. During the first lockdown, we surveyed our community to ask them about the challenges they were facing and many people told us about the impact of cancelled appointments and the disruption to their treatment. In response, we launched a UKwide Impossible to ignore campaign, which was about making sure that restoring access to health services for people with arthritis would be prioritised. TO GET INVOLVED Visit the sign-up page at versusarthritis. org/campaignsnetwork or email