Financially, we are still in a strong position thanks to the large anonymous donation we received several years ago. The group decided that half should be devoted to biomedical research into ME and this has been donated. We felt that the remainder should be allocated to helping members of the group. Examples are the grants awarded by THAT Fund, set up to alleviate hardship and provide small amounts of assistance to members. Also the four therapists offering their services at the AGM will be paid out of the group funds.
However, we also decided last year that members should contribute to the running costs of the group so that we did not deplete our capital resources and we resumed asking for subscriptions. As usual, this was a time and energy-absorbing exercise for me and several others on the committee, as it involved a lot of chasing of those who do not respond to requests in the newsletter or emails.
We did eventually pull in about £1000 in subscriptions and have now established a fully up-do-date membership list with 135 people on it. Interestingly, 75 of these are on email, making it easy for me to send out reminder notices and things of general interest to people with ME.
In summary, the group had revenues of £1555 in the year to 31 July 2008 and we spent £1870, which meant we had to dig into our cash resources for £315 to keep going. This is not as bad as it sounds. Actual running expenses are less than £1000 a year. The extra expenditure was on grants from THAT Fund to members and a donation to ME Research UK. The accounts are available from me if anybody wants to see them.
The newsletter continues to go out to all members under Sally’s capable editorship and is back on track, I’m pleased to say, after a short gap while Sally and Frank moved to their new flat. We shouldn’t forget the behind the scenes work done by Martin on maintaining the membership database and Colin on actually sending the copies out.
We held a successful Summer Party in July. Everyone enjoyed sitting in the Friends Meeting House garden on one of the few sunny days of the year. The regular local meetings, overseen by Cath Ross, seem to be going well, although how well varies according to the available energy of members in each locality.
The imaging project at Hammersmith Hospital was reformulated in
September last year on a less ambitious basis and brain scanning of 25 ME sufferers and 25 healthy controls is in now full swing. It is due to be completed in April next year.
Finally, with extensive help from a few members, we completed the Profile Project. All in all, we now have useful information on the wants and capabilities of 113 people in the group who responded to the telephone questionnaire. We are still working out how we can use this database to benefit members, particularly in terms of reducing isolation.