We're calling on the Government to strengthen support for children and young people with arthritis. Will you join us? 

26 June 2024
Smiling mother and daughter in the garden holding a tennis racket

Growing up isn’t always easy.

Throughout childhood, you’re building new friendships, juggling schoolwork, and trying to discover your place in the world — and it can be a big learning curve for any young person.

But it can be even harder when you’re dealing with pain and fatigue.

This is the challenging reality for around 10,000 children under the age of 16 who have juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), a group of inflammatory conditions where the main symptom is arthritis.

There’s a common misconception that arthritis just affects older people. But the truth is arthritis can affect anyone at any age, even children.

JIA can cause joint pain and swelling, loss of mobility, and extreme tiredness (fatigue) - and, as you can imagine, it can make schoolwork, hobbies and family life tough.

No child or young person should have to face these challenges alone.

That’s why we’re calling on the next UK Government to strengthen care and support for children and young people with arthritis.

Right now, we need local parliamentary candidates to understand what it’s like living with arthritis and how they can stand up for children and young people living with arthritis.

Will you join us, take a stand, and raise your voice for better and brighter childhoods?

Email your candidates now


What is it like living with arthritis as a young person? 

Sfiyah blowing bubbles in garden10-year-old Sfiyah lives with JIA and says it can get in the way of school life.

“It stops me from doing a lot of things, like playing in the playground in school,” she explains. “I can’t run around as much because of my knees. It puts a lot of pressure on them. Sometimes I don’t feel included.”

“In PE, we play football or rugby, and I can’t join in as much, it hurts my knee a lot to kick a ball. I can’t do the things I want to do.”

Getting an early diagnosis can be life changing for a young person with JIA, preventing long-term joint damage, pain and disability.

However, Parvina, Sfiyah’s mum, says that her daughter’s “diagnosis was incredibly difficult.”

“It took such a long time and it felt like healthcare professionals weren’t listening,” she says. “We would like to see more support in schools.”

“Sfiyah’s going to high school next year and we’ve found it difficult to highlight her needs. I don’t think schools understand."

"There’s a big stigma that arthritis is something older people get. We need more understanding.”

Parvina, mother of 10-year-old Sfiyah who has JIA

What must the next UK Government do to strengthen support for children and young people with arthritis? 

Some studies suggest that as many as two in three young people will continue to need specialist care into adulthood.

So, if we can help them get the best treatment, manage their symptoms, and build their confidence now, they’ll be better equipped to manage their arthritis in the future.

For this reason, we’re calling on the next UK Government to:

Improve mental health support for children and young people with arthritis and their families and expand access to this support.

Enable schools to deliver individual plans of support which are co-created with young people with arthritis and their families.

Work with health systems to deliver co-created wraparound support plans for every young person with arthritis transitioning from child to adult healthcare services.

Email your candidates now


“Despite public perception, arthritis affects people of all ages, including children and young people. Too often, they are unsupported in school and can struggle to take part in everyday activities. More must be done to ensure sustained improvement in the care, treatment, and support for people of all ages, living with arthritis.”

Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive of Versus Arthritis.

Images of people living with arthritis and text that reads '10 million reasons to take arthritis seriously'

Our manifesto for people with arthritis 

We want the next UK Government to strengthen support for children and young people living with arthritis.

But we’re not stopping there.

We’re also calling for the next UK Government to:

  • Ensure arthritis is a priority in national health plans including improved data.
  • Bring down waiting times for people with arthritis and support them while waiting.
  • Increase funding into musculoskeletal research to match its severe impact
  • Improve work-related support for people with arthritis.
Read our manifesto in full

Were here for you

We also have a Young People and Families Service that supports young people and their families with one-to-one support, events and resources across the UK.  

Find support in your area


If you need advice or support, you can also: