When coronavirus brought normal life to a standstill, you enabled us to quickly scale up support for people with Parkinson’s. And through it all, we never stopped chasing down a cure.
Lockdown changed lives. Being unable to meet together, receive visitors or access services in person left many people without the essential support they needed.
And more than a third of people with Parkinson’s found their health got worse and their symptoms increased this year.
Here are the 3 big things we’re most proud of this year, and how you can get involved in driving our work forward in 2021.
1. When crisis hit, we quickly adapted our support so we could be there
People with Parkinson’s needed information they could trust. Services they could access from home. Connections with others in our community. And they needed it quickly.
We responded by rapidly adapting and growing our information and support service. We kept people updated with the changing guidance on coronavirus and Parkinson’s, and how to manage their condition and mental health during lockdown. We set up free, home-based exercise classes, led by specialist physiotherapists, to help people stay fit and physically active.
Together with volunteers, we made sure we were there for everyone who needed us. We contacted every member. Used all our digital channels to share updates, and created a new Facebook community page, where 2,800 people living with Parkinson’s can now connect with others from their own homes. We sent vital information in the post to 4,692 people who aren’t online.
Our advisers have supported over 19,800 people so far this year, including making wellbeing check-in calls to more than 3,400 members of our community to see how they’re doing and offer support.
One person told us:
“All the information you gave us was fantastic... You explained everything so clearly and were so patient, diplomatic and very understanding with dad. I could tell he felt at ease with you and warmed to you straight away."
And our community rallied together to fund this emergency response, raising a phenomenal £1.3m to support people with Parkinson’s.
2. The Parkinson’s community stepped up to lead the way
2020 in summary?
Parkinson's. Courage. Community. Kindness.
In this short, powerful video, people from across the Parkinson's community share how their lives changed this year.
People with Parkinson’s, families, friends and carers know that getting the condition understood is vital to improve lives and find a cure.
Our community took the initiative on World Parkinson’s Day this year, coming together to share powerful stories of life with Parkinson’s.
Barrie, one of the leaders of this growing movement, said:
“It's a chance to remind the world we are here and that we contribute and we matter!”
Over 19,000 people signed our petition calling for mandatory Parkinson’s training for hospital staff, which we handed, virtually, to decision makers across the UK in October. We’re now urging hospitals to commit to this important initiative to improve people’s treatment.
And our members ran a series of virtual events to learn about our ambitious research plans and share the inspirational activities they’ve been delivering. It was a great opportunity to share creative ways to get connected, stay in touch and raise funds.
One member said:
“In the past I’ve been consulted by the charity, but this has been different, collaborative, by Parkinson’s members and for Parkinson’s members… let’s hope this new way of working is only the start.”
3. Through it all, we never stopped pushing for a cure
We reached a major milestone in 2020. Since being founded 51 years ago, we’ve invested £100m into Parkinson’s research. This has produced important discoveries about what causes the condition and helped develop new treatments.
And we didn’t let coronavirus stop us in 2020. Here are some of the pioneering research projects we funded this year:
- A £1m clinical trial that could produce an effective treatment for hallucinations in Parkinson’s in just a few years.
- A £1.5m clinical trial, co-funded with the Michael J. Fox Foundation, of a new drug to combat dyskinesia, a side effect of Parkinson’s drugs that causes involuntary movements.
- A new grants programme to invest in research into innovative non-drug therapies, from living aids and exercise to therapies like massage and reflexology.
Like everything else we do, we’ve achieved this together. We marked 10 years of our 5,000-strong Research Support Network, a community of people committed to playing their part in the search for better treatments and a cure.
And together, we can fund the next breakthrough. Our new campaign has raised an incredible £263,149 (and counting!). Thanks to the tenacity and generosity of our community, we’re already planning bigger and better things for 2021.
Because Parkinson’s doesn’t stop, and neither will we.
Parkinson's can't hold us back
Parkinson's is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. And there is no cure. Yet.
It can mean you can't work. Can't walk. Can't taste. Can't talk.
But research can lead to new treatments to slow, stop, or reverse symptoms. We can find a cure. And we can't do it without you.