Update: 22nd May 2020. Please see Sue Brown's recent blog "The NHS is not a Charity" about the challenges facing health charities, particularly in the MSK sector, right now. You'll find some suggestions on Lockdown fundraising in our fundraising section very soon, but if you come up with something else let us know and we'll include it!

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The HMSA really is a tiny charity packing a massive punch. Everything you see us do is accomplished by a core team of around two dozen volunteers, a part-time staff you could count on one hand (volunteering extra hours on top), and all done on a shoestring budget. Life in the third sector is tough right now. Just when there's never been more demand for our existing (and brand new) services - all fundraising events are off, grant holders are closing their books and donations are drying up as the impact of Lockdown makes itself felt in peoples' pockets. Charitable donations are understandably bottom of the priority list if you quite literally don't know where your next paycheque or meal, is coming from, or even how long the financial disruption will last. There will be no bake sales or coffee mornings this summer. We are providing as much support as we possibly can to our members for free, including some things we'd ordinarily charge for as fundraisers. Some staff members are taking indefinite unpaid leave in order to volunteer all their time instead, a way to limit our expenditure *and* guarantee the important work still gets done. 

Our team is almost entirely comprised of patients, often also self-employed, keyworkers, parents, teachers, medical professionals, volunteering in our 'spare time'. They are all, rock stars, frankly. Some are in quarantine, shielded, self-isolating, or in lockdown like everyone else. They are all enormously dedicated and we will carry on working to support those in our community as long as we're well enough. We've suspended all non-essential projects (and yes, we are pacing our activities), but while our overheads are small we do have day to day bills; helpline software, , hosting our website and so on. We need to manage these bills in order to carry on providing the service so many of our members and followers rely on at the best of times, and to expand our online resources so that we can continue to support everyone during what is clearly shaping up to be some of the very worst times in living memory.

We know how tough it is to manage your condition with the usual medical support, and we know how hard it will be to self-manage with routine and non-emergent services substantially disrupted for an extended period. People with hypermobility syndromes will still be here after the pandemic. They will still need our help. Some may in worse physical and mental shape than they were when this began, and there may be many more people discovering for the first time the physical health impact that a few weeks of lifestyle change, or a sudden illness can have on a previously co-operative body. We'd like to be here to help them manage when this is all over too, and be prepared to deal with various community impacts as they happen. A lot of people are having to learn self management strategies really quickly, help us to leave no-one behind.

Please, if you are able - contribute to our core running costs. If you are not able and can think of someone who is, please let them know what our support has meant to you, your family and the medical community (remember, many have a foot in both camps). 

We are as always massively grateful for all and any support you can give, whether that be through joining as a member, making a donation to this appeal, donating your time as one of our volunteers or helping to raise our plight with your friends and family.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.  As we said to our members earlier this week; 

Please, if you can stay home, stay home! Wash your hands. Look after the six-foot bubble around you. Keep moving. Be kind to yourself, it's okay to be struggling. It's also okay not to be. It's perfectly okay to be both of those things at the same time, or just a half-hour apart. If you are having a hard time and need to vent to someone who gets it, call us or drop us a line. We can't fix this, but we can listen, and be familiar with the anxiety and sadness our whole society is experiencing, and with the particular frustrations, stresses, and challenges we're going to face as a community over the next months.