Call goes out for volunteers and funds on World Parkinson’s Day

Parkinson's UK
Parkinson's UK

A charity dedicated to supporting those with a progressive neurological condition is celebrating its World Day with a street collection.

The Chichester & Bognor Regis Branch of Parkinson’s UK is collecting in central Chichester on Saturday, April 13, to mark World Parkinson’s Day, which falls this year on April 11.

Volunteers from the group will be collecting at the Cross and Northgate between 9am and 5pm. They will also provide information about the condition and details of branch activities for those who have Parkinson’s and their partners and carers.

Hopes are the street collection will not only raise vital funds for the charity’s work, but will also encourage potential volunteers to lend a hand.

Alan Mee, president of Parkinson’s UK Chichester & Bognor branch, said: “In previous Chichester collections, local people have been very generous in their financial support, for which we are most grateful.”

Also thanks to the generosity of people in the area, committee member and fundraiser Susie Barker presented a cheque for £6,800 to Parkinson’s UK national office at the branch’s annual general meeting this March.

The Chichester & Bognor Regis group is backing the ‘Parkinson’s Is’ campaign, which aims to shatter public misconceptions about the condition by highlighting the reality of everyday life for those living with it.

The campaign has been launched in response to frustrations from people with Parkinson’s that the condition is viewed as ‘just the shakes’.

Alan said: “According to recent research from Parkinson’s UK, eight in ten people with Parkinson’s believe that awareness and understanding is low because people don’t consider it to be a serious condition and only associate it with one symptom - a tremor.”

Parkinson’s UK chief executive Steve Ford said: “Despite the fact that Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative condition after Alzheimer’s, many people still don’t understand what Parkinson’s is or how it affects people.

“We hope our new ‘Parkinson’s Is’ campaign which sees people across the UK share how the condition affects their lives will raise awareness and help correct public misconceptions about this much misunderstood condition.”

For advice, information and support, visit www.parkinsons.org.uk or call its free, confidential helpline on 0808 800 0303

‘Help needed for activities’

Parkinson’s is a serious and progressive neurological condition for which there is currently no cure.

Although the condition has over 40 symptoms which impact people of all ages, its main traits are tremor and slowness of movement.

It affects 145,000 people in the UK, or around one in 350 of the adult population.

Parkinson’s UK Chichester & Bognor branch president Alan Mee said: “Every hour, two people in the UK are told they have Parkinson’s.”

Charity Parkinson’s UK is driving better care, treatments and quality of life for those with the condition and aims find a cure and improve life for everyone affected via cutting-edge research, information, support and campaigning.

One of 365 groups in its network, the Chichester & Bognor Regis branch offers a space for people with Parkinson’s to meet others in similar situations and access support. This takes various forms, including exercise, such as singing for voice volume and facial muscle improvement; t’ai chi for muscle strength, coordination and balance; and indoor games for physical and mental exercise.

A dance group is also led by a Parkinson’s-trained occupational therapist.

Alan said: “All these gatherings provide opportunities for social interaction and mutual encouragement.

“We have monthly social meetings in Chichester and Bognor, where we usually have a general interest talk followed by a cup of tea, a table quiz and a raffle.

“Thanks to local financial support, we are able to offer subsidised rates on outings, an annual lunch and head and foot massage sessions.”

The branch enjoys ‘excellent’ support from St Richard’s Hospital and the Munro Unit, which offers multi-disciplinary care and advice from a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, dietician, speech and language therapist and mental health nurse specialist, who are available when Parkinson’s patients have six-monthly consultations with a specialist doctor or Parkinson’s nurse.

That said, “An area we struggle with is finding volunteers able and willing to give time to support local activities, especially in their planning and organisation, where computer skills are an added bonus. Anyone who can spare some time to help out in this way, please contact me on 01243 788539 or our chairperson Ann Wallis on 01903 733112.”