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Charity, Patient or Professional Association of the Year

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Highly Commended

Versus Arthritis

Summary of work

“Because people can’t see it, they don’t think it’s real. They can’t see what’s happening under my skin.”

Arthritis is one of the biggest health issues facing the UK, affecting over 10 million people. That’s one in six of us, with over half living in pain every single day. Yet it’s dismissed as inevitable, invisible, untreatable or ’just a bit of pain’.

The societal, economic and personal cost is enormous. Arthritis and related conditions are responsible for 30.8 million lost working days each year, 20% of all sickness absence, and costs the NHS £5 billion each year. More so, arthritis strips you of your independence, your ability to work, care for a family or even to move free from pain. The pain, fatigue and unpredictability of arthritis can also be hugely detrimental to your mental health and well-being.

Yet, despite its scale and impact, arthritis is not seen as a serious health condition that affects people of all ages. That’s what Versus Arthritis is here to change.

Versus Arthritis launched as a brand-new charity in September 2018 following the merger between Arthritis Research UK and Arthritis Care. We had recognised just how much more there was to be done to support, empower and improve the quality of life for people with arthritis, and how much more we could accomplish by joining forces. So, we’re building on the best of the legacy charities by continuing to invest in groundbreaking research and peer-to-peer support services, demanding and delivering better for people with arthritis.

But we’re doing more than that. We have ambitious goals and we’re expanding our services and support to reach even more people across the UK.

People with arthritis are truly at the heart of everything we do at Versus Arthritis. They are involved in decision-making across all our activity and played a critical role in the development of the new name, brand and tone of voice. Our Patient Insight Partners are instrumental in setting out our research priorities, reviewing research proposals and supporting researchers to undertake effective patient involvement. Our content is regularly reviewed by people with arthritis to ensure we’re providing the answers people need, in the way that’s right for them and whenever they need it.

  • And the need is great. In 2018 more people reached out to us than they ever had to Arthritis Research UK or Arthritis Care:
    Our Helpline received 15,000 enquiries – an increase of over 700% since it launched in 2017
  • There were over 10,000 members of our online community giving peer-to-peer support and sharing experiences
  • Our innovative AI virtual assistant had over 11,000 interactions, enabling people with arthritis to access the information they need any time, day or night
  • We invested £22 million in research that could improve the lives of people with arthritis and continued to search for more effective treatments and a cure
  • We engaged with hundreds of MPs on issues that matter most to people with arthritis, including supporting people with arthritis to get into and stay in work and the provision of aids and adaptations that can help people with arthritis to be independent in their homes.

At the heart of our new brand is the need to challenge the passive acceptance of arthritis in society, so that it is no longer dismissed. So, we launched our new charity with a bold national marketing campaign in November 2018 to challenge current perceptions of arthritis and push the condition up the national agenda. It set out our ambitious plan for change across all areas of society to increase public awareness and understanding of the condition and help people with arthritis live better. But we know we can’t do this alone. We’re working in collaboration with MPs, the NHS, healthcare professionals, and other key stakeholders to ensure that arthritis is made a priority.

We’re nominating ourselves for Charity of the Year because of how much we’ve achieved in just a few months. In less than a year we’ve launched an ambitious new charity and a bold, major marketing campaign pushing for attitudinal shifts towards arthritis across all levels of society. Our ambitions are big, and we were presented with many challenges, but we rose to meet them head on in order to meet the needs of people with arthritis. We won’t stop until no one has to live with the pain, fatigue and isolation of arthritis.

Judges' comments

The fact that the Versus Arthritis campaign was picked up by Nicola Sturgeon was really impressive. It was a fair reflection of a defining year for the company, and over all the strategy was brilliant. It was great to see that they harnessed a merger as an opportunity to really engage the community and their interest groups and communicate their message effectively. Versus Arthritis really stood out because of how bold the re-brand was - they’ve done it in a way that breaks the mould.

Highly commended

Category Sponsors

Key dates

Entry deadline 10th March 2023
Extended entry deadline 17th March 2023
(additional fee applies)
Judging days 4th, 5th and 19th
May 2023
Awards Ceremony 6th July 2023

Contact information:

For sponsorship opportunities:
Sales Team
Tel: +44 (0)1372 414200

General event enquiries:
Debbie Tuesley
Tel: +44 (0)1372 414243

Entry and dinner booking enquiries:
Charlotte Garnade
Tel: 01372 414253