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Onwards and upwards, because of you

December 24, 2020

Ruth Richardson, Operations Director, reflects on 2020 and how your support means we can be here for even more people with M.E.

Some people with M.E. who have contacted us for support have been worried about the impact of the pandemic on the charity, and whether we will be able to offer the same level of support in 2021.

We are delighted to announce that Action for M.E. has weathered the storm and is now in a robust financial position. In fact, we will be extending our services rather than reducing them. This has been largely due to the fantastic support we have received from our supporters, donors and Supporting Members. Ruth Richardson, Operations Director, Action for M.E., says:

"My first thought back in March was how the was pandemic going to affect people with M.E. How would they able to maintain the support infrastructure they rely on, while everyone else was requesting home deliveries and other practical assistance?”

Along with our Chief Executive Sonya Chowdhury, Ruth thoughts turned to the charity’s funds. Key fundraising events such as the London Marathon were being cancelled all over the country. What consequences would this have? Ruth continues:

“It was a difficult time for all charities. No one could really predict what was going to happen but our sense was that it was going to be a challenging year financially. When we revised our budget back in April, we anticipated losing up to 50% of our income.”

We made some difficult decisions including furloughing staff and making a number of redundancies; this was the direct result of a restructure aimed at ensuring we did everything possible to ensure people with M.E. could access the support they need. Our new Crisis, Support and Advocacy Service proved so successful it is now a permanent service.

“We knew we had to act and make tough decisions if we were going to ensure our vital services for people with M.E. could continue."

Yet, after a bumpy few months, we didn’t see the decline in membership or donations we had expected. People found novel ways of holding events so they could continue raising funds for us. The future started to look brighter, says Ruth.

“I am so thankful to everyone who continued to support us during a really difficult time. We thought community fundraising would take a massive hit as nearly every event was cancelled. Amazingly, it has done so well this year and has enabled us to be in a much more secure financial position. We recognised everyone was feeling the squeeze, so for people to continue giving us monthly subscriptions or donations has been incredible, and means we can keep going at a time when our services were seeing a 30% increase in demand.”

Then came our 2020 Big Give Christmas Challenge. For one week earlier this month, gifts to us were doubled thanks to a match-pot generously created by philanthropists that support us. We raised an incredible £169,710.

“We were blown away by the support for Big Give! Our target was about a third of what we raised in the end. It goes to show we have such an amazing community of people who want to support us. We are now in a position where we can begin to grown again, investing in our services for people with M.E.”

As a result, we are expanding our dedicated team, employing two colleagues to join our Crisis, Advocacy and Support Service and another Advocacy Officer to deliver one-to-one casework across the UK. To support the increasing number of families contacting us, a Parent Support Officer will also join our team, for mums and dad facing difficulties in securing a diagnosis for their child, or dealing with schools. Ruth says:

“We never imagined being in the position we are in now. It’s incredibly humbling to end the year on such a strong financial footing. It's all due to the fantastic efforts of the community around us: people with M.E. and their friends, families and supporters. And of course, to our team at the charity who have worked so hard this year.”

Because of you, we can be here for more people with M.E. Thank you.

Our team will be taking a break over Christmas, returning Monday 4 January 2021. From all of us here at Action for M.E., we wish you a peaceful Christmas and New Year.