Chairman’s Review of the Year (2012/13) at the AGM on 8 October 2013
We currently have 130 members. Financially, we are in a good position. One of our members has been most generous and gave us a further sum at the end of last year. There are so few of us running the group that trying to get in subs and donations is a major task and not something we look forward to. This additional donation has given us much-needed breathing space. And it means we don’t have to ask members for money each year which many find hard to give.
The accounts show we ended up our year to 31 July 2013 with £1,817 more than we started. During the year we spent £1,610 but we managed to bring in £3,427 from donations, subs from new members and the sale of cards. A major problem for us, and for other groups, is the sharp rise in the cost of postage for the newsletter, which is our major item of expenditure. The only way we can offset this is by persuading more members to receive Outreach as an email attachment. I’m pleased to report that our request to take Outreach electronically last May was well received. It is interesting to note that over 70% of members are now on email, even if they can only use a computer for limited periods. We now send out almost a third of our newsletter copies to members via email which, from savings on envelopes and postage and the reduced print run, means it costs us £57 less per issue. If anybody wants to see the accounts with all the detail, I’m happy to give them a copy. I have also filed them with the Charity Commission so the totals are there on the Charity Commission website for anyone to see.
Cathy Stillman-Lowe is now firmly settled in as our new newsletter editor. She operates remotely so everything is done by email but that works well. She is always looking for contributions from members – not necessarily to do with M.E. – which can be sent into her by post if you wish. Many group members are unable to get to meetings and events and we know from surveys we’ve done over the years and the feedback I get via email and phone that they regard Outreach as a lifeline. Also we shouldn’t forget the crucial behind-the-scenes work done by Martin on maintaining the membership database and Colin on actually sending the copies out.
We now have a really attractive – and informative – refreshed group website, thanks to Pamela and Heidi. New members can join online. More and more people are finding us via the Web.
We had an interesting and informative talk from Dr. Charles Shepherd of the ME Association at our AGM in October last year. Rob not only organised the technology for the talk but made 12 DVDs for those who were not able to be there. We also put a video on the website and, for those who prefer to read what he said, a transcript on the website to download.
The Summer Party at Friends Meeting House went well, as did the party in August in Maggie’s delightful garden. Cath and Colin continue to organise a regular coffee meeting in Chiswick.
We also run a fund for members who need small sums for financial assistance. Janet Battams, the administrator of THAT Fund, as we call it, reports:
“The Fund has made three grants this year. Two came under the “Treatments” category and the other was a “Things” category. The recipients were very grateful for the help received from the Fund. Even a small grant can make a big difference in someone’s life in these times of financial constraints. If any member would like to know more about applying for a grant please get in touch with the administrator, Janet Battams.”
Every six months, I chair a meeting of several London ME support groups, called ME London, which we all find valuable in terms of exchanging ideas and talking about issues of mutual interest.
Finally, the burden of running the group is falling on fewer and fewer shoulders, especially now that Colin leaving the trustee group. You don’t have to be trustee to help us. So please do consider if you can do something to help keep the group up and running.
Tony Golding, Chair, Network MESH (West London)