News from the Nations


Join Cymru Versus Arthritis for their July ‘lunch and learn’ sessions

Cymru Versus Arthritis will be holding three ‘lunch and learn’ sessions in July.

These will be delivered on Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15 July, from 12pm to 2pm and will be aimed at the Hywel Dda and Cwm Taf health-board areas. The session for the Betsi Cadwaladr area will be on Wednesday 21 July, 10am – 12pm.

The sessions will be held virtually using Microsoft Teams and will include information and activities, showcasing the work of the charity, and what’s available for people with arthritis in Wales.

This event is for healthcare professionals, people with arthritis as well as agencies, organisations and others that want to find out more about our work and what we can do for people with arthritis. Please do circulate this to your networks and the people you support.

For further details please contact

Can you help Versus Arthritis deliver its flagship Core Skills in MSK care training programme?

Are you a GP in Wales with interest in MSK conditions and experience of education delivery? Versus Arthritis is looking to recruit a Wales based GP to help deliver our flagship Core Skills in Musculoskeletal Care training programme. The training has been developed by GPs to help increase knowledge and confidence for any frontline healthcare professionals who support patients with MSK conditions. This is a paid for opportunity. If you would like any further information please contact:


Encourage your patients to join a Versus Arthritis MSK walking group in England

After shifting to online, phone and postal support during the pandemic, Versus Arthritis local volunteers are moving back to supporting people face to face.

Some of the first activities to restart are 10 brand new walking groups across England. Versus Arthritis walking groups are specifically for people with all types of arthritis so are short and at a gentle pace, and include rest stops as needed. Our new volunteer walk-leaders all have an MSK condition themselves, and are ramblers accredited and supervised by Versus Arthritis staff members.

Proposed groups in this pilot are:

  • Leeds
  • Leicester
  • Chester
  • Norfolk (two or three walks in different areas)
  • Lancashire
  • London (Islington and Enfield)
  • Gloucestershire (Cheltenham)

We know that walking is one of the top activities that people with arthritis would like to get involved in and we also know that the pandemic has led to many people becoming deconditioned. Many with arthritis have pain, fatigue, lack of confidence and fear of injury so we hope these new walking groups will provide a supportive environment to improve mobility and fitness. The walking groups will also help maintain mental health and reduce social isolation and people will chat as they walk and even build friendships over time.

Please keep an eye on our website to see when your local group is due to start and please encourage your patients to give it a go!

Local support groups for people with arthritis – how to refer your patients

In England, Versus Arthritis has around 80 local volunteer-led support groups- this includes around 10 new groups, some of which have launched online and are hoping to move to face-to-face meetings. Groups meet in a variety of settings such as community halls, libraries and cafes. Groups also vary in their activities but usually include guest speakers (e.g. local healthcare professionals), social activities, and different types of physical activity such as tai chi, seated exercise or hydrotherapy.

Comments from group volunteers include:

“The group is about 30 strong and I love the fact that people share their “arthritis” stories including a lot of positive and useful information. We have all learned so much from each other”


“Our group is a happy, positive one, and we, the volunteers, can see how we can help those who attend to actually enjoy themselves and go home feeling better.”

These groups are restarting gradually, so do encourage patients to check our website for what’s happening locally to them.

If there are no local groups in your area yet, Versus Arthritis offers a range of other support options including our helpline, online community, ‘Let’s Move with Leon’ physio-led physical activity and more. Click on the magnifying glass on the Versus Arthritis home page and search to find out more.

Northern Ireland

Public information talks for your patients

Based on the feedback of our service participants and volunteers, we are now delivering an exciting series of online talks and information sessions in partnership with health professionals and voluntary sector organisations via Microsoft Teams. Focusing on topics such as self-care, dealing with fatigue, benefits advice and much more, the talks are designed to meet the information and signposting needs of people living with pain and are advertised and open to the public as a one-off or ongoing opportunity.

We have so far had sessions led by occupational therapy on sleep and fatigue, awareness on mental health, pain team physiotherapy on chronic pain rehabilitation, and pain and prescribing techniques. The sessions have been attended by on average 30 participants with a high level of engagement and crucially extending our reach to new audiences, as well as forming part of a pathway for those who have accessed other services such as our self-management courses. Participants’ comments include:

“I’ve received more information from your presentation on pain this morning than any of my other medical professionals, I hope more people are able to benefit from this.”

“So much brilliant information has been presented to us, especially about sleep and fatigue.”

“Very grateful to be able to attend these talks and ask professionals questions and receive answers; it has been very helpful.”

Our next calendar of weekly sessions will be starting in June with further engaging topics. We organise talks for 6-week blocks and patients can register themselves or you can refer them to us – new calendar coming soon.

For more information contact Anna Lyons or Lisa Carlisle

Our inaugural NI Versus Arthritis MSK Forum and how you can shape future meetings

We held our inaugural NI Versus Arthritis Forum on 12 May.

The last year has been a year like no other, with MSK services operating under the huge pressure of a pandemic, underfunding, growing waiting lists and short-term budgets – all whilst trying to deliver long-term transformation. As services try to rebuild and recover, we felt it was time to reflect on the challenges faced but also to recognise the amazing way in which staff and services have adapted. Our ambition is to harness the innovation that has taken place and use it to reshape thinking on MSK services.

The first session updated participants on VA services, resources and our policy and campaigning work respectively, and how every healthcare professional can get involved with us – from supporting their patients day-to-day to campaigning for system change. With input from our professional engagement team around our education training offer, this will be an informal but meaningful outlet for health professionals to come together and share ideas to transform the support available to people living with MSK pain.

With representation across MSK disciplines and primary/secondary care, we hope for increasing involvement as the quarterly sessions continue.

Going forward, we’re keen that you – the forum members – shape future meetings. The forum is all about sharing best practice, collaboration and bringing solutions and options for policy change and service improvement, so if there are topics you would like to discuss, please let us know and we’ll take them forward.

The forum doesn’t have to be in a fixed format so other possibilities could include:

  • interactive small group sessions and feedback
  • single themed sessions
  • forum member led sessions
  • developing an MSK Manifesto for the Assembly election
  • consultation responses
  • working towards an MSK strategy / treatment pathways
  • showcasing your service initiatives.

Our next meeting is 12 August.

Please email your interest in attending and/or any forum related input, ideas and feedback to

Dr Adrian Pendleton is Cycling from Mizen Head to Malin Head for arthritis!

Help Dr Adrian Pendleton, consultant rheumatologist, raise funds for NI Versus Arthritis, who provide local services such as supporting people living with arthritis and other long term/persistent pain conditions.

Read Adrian’s biography and donate at

Follow Adrian’s training and progress via Just Giving or NI Versus Arthritis social media platforms:;

Thank you on behalf of all those who will benefit from your support.


Young People and Families service

The Young People and Families service for those aged 10-25 with arthritis and related MSK conditions in Scotland delivers self-management and peer support projects for young people, as well as in-clinic support for young people, families and clinicians.

Due to the pandemic, our delivery over the last year has looked a little different! We continue to adapt our programmes to suit restrictions and safety of our young people.

We recently released a podcast; weekly episodes cover various topics and themes that young people want to share, primarily about living with arthritis. Hear how young people live with their condition, what adaptations they may have to make and its impact on their lives.

We are also working on sleep themed stop motion videos which will be written, recorded, and edited by young people. We will be continuing with a blended approach to delivery, with both virtual and face to face events taking place.

Our work and support of young people in clinics across Scotland continues. We are taking referrals from paediatric and adult clinics, supporting young people aged 10 -25 with new diagnosis, transition, and transfer to adult services as well as other support needs. Although we are based in four health board areas, we take referrals (and self-referrals) from across Scotland.

Contact for further information.

Living Well adult services

We have been working with Pete Moore, the author of the Pain Toolkit (PTK) to provide online sessions for people living with chronic pain, and carers/healthcare professionals who would like an insight into what the PTK can offer patients. We have delivered a series of virtual bitesize self-management workshops on pain, sleep, managing anxiety and fibromyalgia, with more planned for the coming months.

We have numerous volunteer-led online tai chi for arthritis classes available for participants wishing to explore this wonderful therapy (both seated and standing classes are available for varying abilities from beginners to those more advanced). Having recently trained staff and volunteers in the art of Qi gong, we are planning delivery as part of our service offer soon. A few of our volunteer-led walking groups have restarted, and we hope to have all our groups back walking safely by the end of the summer.

For more details of any of the activities mentioned, including dates and content, please get in touch with us at

Working Well service

Working Well service provides employment related information, guidance, and support to help individuals living with any form of arthritis or MSK condition. The aim is to help people with arthritis self-manage their condition in work, return to work, volunteering or further education. For further information or to refer to the service contact

ESCAPE Pain programme begins

Our first class in Scotland - after COVID-19 lockdown paused our progress for a year - was run by the MSK Physio team in Inverness. Shortly thereafter, the Inverness leisure centre re-opened and included ESCAPE Pain on their programme of activities. All the facilitators that attended the training in Scotland are keen to offer the programme as soon as possible, but many local venues remain closed, so finding suitable premises is currently a major barrier. However, since the initial training course took place in March 2020, 25 new facilitators have completed the training.

For more information on the programme, contact, adding ESCAPE Pain to the subject title.