In the Annual General Meeting in October, Tony Golding presented an annual review highlighting the most important things that went on in the group in 2009. Financially, he pointed out, we are still in a good position although our resources are gradually beginning to run down. He also praised the team behind our newsletter Outreach, with Priscilla doing an excellent job as the new editor. Janet Battams took over as the new administrator of the THAT fund. At the InvestinME conference, which several of our members attended, Catriona made an impressive and hearfelt speach. She also put in a lot of work on producing our evidence on the Hillingdon clinic for the inquiry into NHS service provision by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on ME.
Financially, we are still in a strong position thanks to the large anonymous donation we received several years ago. But our resources are running down and we will need to ask members for subscriptions next year, even though this is an exercise that involves a lot work and energy on the part of the committee. In brief, we had an income of just over £1000 in our financial year, which ends on 31 July, but we spent £2250, which means we had to dig into our capital for the difference—-roughly £1250. Our biggest expenditure is the newsletter, which comes out four times a year. If anybody wants to see the accounts, with all the detail, I’m happy to give them a copy. I also have to file them with the Charity Commission so the totals will soon appear on the Charity Commission website for anyone to see.
Priscilla has done an excellent job since taking over as editor of the newsletter and we thank her for her vital contribution to the group. So many group members are unable to get to meetings and events and we know from surveys we’ve done over the years that they regard Outreach as a lifeline. Also we shouldn’t forget the important behind-the-scenes work done by Martin on maintaining the membership database and Colin on actually sending the copies out.
We currently have 144 members. Ninety per cent of these are located in London and around 80% in West London, broadly defined. Over 60% of our members are now on email. A small group is looking currently on how we can refresh our website and create an easy-to-use discussion group. We get a steady stream of new members. The majority of these find us through our website, so it is important that it is as good as we can make it. Keeping it up-to-date is, as ever, an issue.
We held a several successful parties through the summer. The regular local meetings, overseen by Cath Ross, continue to be popular events for those able to get to them.
We also run a fund for members who need small amounts of financial assistance. In the last two years we have given grants to 11 members, totalling £1431. I’d like to read a report I have from Janet Battams, the new administrator of THAT Fund, as we call it:
“Marion Kinn has stepped down from the position after several years and we would like to thank her for all the work she has done. We are pleased she is keeping her link with the Fund as she will act as stand-in on the Decision Panel if any of the three regular members (Carolyn Appleby, Janet Freeman and Mark Yabsley) are unavailable to consider applications.
The new administrator was introduced to the team at a meeting in July as a ‘get to know you’ and to review the Objectives and Guidelines of the Fund. One of the main ideas put forward at the July meeting was that a leaflet explaining the function of the Fund should be produced and sent out to all MESH members. This task is now in progress. The Fund has had four applications so far this year. Three of these were successful and the fourth was still under consideration at the time of writing.”
Before I finish I just want to pick out a few other highlights of the year. In May several of us attended the InvestinME conference. The group sponsored Shamsa Khan, the Occupational Therapist at the Hillingdon ME Clinic, to attend the conference. Catriona made what everyone agrees was an impressive and heartfelt speech at the Royal Society of Medicine conference in July. It has been reproduced many times, on the Net and in other group newsletters. We also have to thank Catriona for all her hard work on producing our evidence on the Hillingdon clinic for the inquiry into NHS service provision by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on ME. The inquiry was conducted over the summer and we are still waiting for the results.
Finally, a few of us do a lot of work to keep this group going and we would welcome help with the running of the group from any member who feels able to contribute.