Saturday, April 16, 2016

Campaigning force awakens in Northern Ireland and Wales

In the latest issue of Thumbprint, the MND Association's in-house magazine, there's an article by me on what we're doing for the Northern Irish and Welsh Assembly elections. 

It had to be edited down a little to fit - and the Star Wars references I included didn't quite make the cut - but here it is as originally drafted. 

Campaigning force awakens in Northern Ireland and Wales 
If you’ve enjoyed the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, then you’ve seen that it takes a lot of people – not just the usual heroes – to overcome The Dark Side. Campaigning is much the same: if we all do a little then we can change a lot.

In 2016, we’re looking to increase our MND campaigning powers in Wales and Northern Ireland. But just like the rebels in Star Wars – we can’t do it without your help. Every e-mail sent helps us reach politicians in a position to influence MND care. Every local campaign volunteer is a local voice for change.

Where better to start this year than with the elections to the Northern Ireland and Welsh Assemblies in May? These elections matter more than you might think – decisions about health and social care are mostly taken in Belfast and Cardiff rather than in Westminster.

So, we’ve launched two new campaigns - one for Northern Ireland and one for Wales - asking Assembly election candidates to commit to championing MND. For some politicians, this may begin a journey of sympathy and support for our cause throughout their career.

To help them understand the impact of MND, we’ve picked a relevant local issue to lead on in Northern Ireland and Wales.


Northern Ireland: Every Breath Counts

The starting point for our Every Breath Counts campaign is the fact that respiratory failure is the most common cause of death in people with MND. That means specialist health professionals play a vital role in care as breathing becomes more difficult.

Every Breath Counts is calling for an increase in the provision of respiratory care in Northern Ireland – especially in the community – to improve quality of life and reduce unplanned hospital admissions.

For more information including our briefing paper see

Wales: MND Won’t Wait

Our MND Won’t Wait campaign emphasises that a timely and accurate diagnosis is essential for the right care at the right time to occur.

In 2013, we found that one in five people with MND in Wales waited longer than a year between first visiting their GP and seeing a neurologist for diagnosis. Though some progress has been made, three years later, we still believe there remains much to be done to raise standards and awareness.

For more information, including our briefing paper, see

How you can help

We know that politicians respond best to local people telling them about MND in their own words. So we’d love your help in Northern Ireland and in Wales in sending them a friendly message, asking them to champion MND.

And it only takes five minutes – all you need to do is go to the homepage for the campaign and send an e-mail to candidates in your area.

If you have a little more time, you might want to personalise your e-mail or adapt one of our template letters.

Join in on Facebook and Twitter

Please do also raise awareness of MND in Northern Ireland and Wales by retweeting and sharing our campaign news to your followers and friends.

Follow us on Twitter at @mndcampaignsNI and @mndcampaignsWLS

Use the Twitter hashtags #everybreath and #mndwontwait

Like us on Facebook at

Keep in touch with us
Questions about the campaigns? Share responses from your candidates?

Interested in finding out more about volunteering in local campaigning (you don’t need to be a Jedi)?

Get in touch with Campaign Manager Tim Atkinson for a chat on or 01543 415121.

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