Small is beautiful and you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone

So who knew? Here we are nearly 8 weeks into “lockdown”.  I’ll never get used to working from home, I said! Office 365 – I can’t use that! How can I take the calls using my mobile phone and donations through that portal at home?  Zoom … what’s that?

Well, the answer is I can and I did!  My “office” is now all set up.  I’m into my routine of starting work every day at 9.00 finishing on time and going into the garden (weather depending!). I also try not to have that glass of wine too early! Yes, I do miss my colleagues, the shared fun, and bouncing ideas off them but we’ve got Microsoft teams for that now!

I work for the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) a charity that provides support and advocacy for those living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA).  In an average month, our helpline takes 200 calls, in March it took 800! 

Lockdown and Small charities

The Facebook lives held by our CEO every Thursday regularly get over 200 listening in and asking questions.  People with suppressed immune systems who need to work, and look after their health and their loved ones are scared and they’re unsure.  Here at NRAS, we have done our best to sort the fact from the fiction, provide practical advice and help those in need. 

Health charities like ours have become a lifeline in the sea (have you noticed that we seem to turn to nautical terms in terms of crisis?!) of advice, opinion, and fake news?  I know, because they tell us, that we are making a real difference in the lives of those living with these long-term autoimmune conditions.  I am humbled that even though some of them are having lean times themselves they have made donations to our emergency appeal.  They want to give something back to say thank you to NRAS for being there.

Things have changed.  Who would have thought we’d be clapping for carers, that supermarket would become almost heroic and I would be so keen (some would say competitive!) about a weekly quiz on Facebook! That the birds could sing so loudly and that the sky could be so blue.

Let’s remember the small charities (and the large ones) and the value they bring to society.  Don’t let some of them fade away because they can’t survive.  They fill a gap and fulfil a need that our overstretched (but amazing) NHS cannot hope to fill.  I don’t claim to have been the first to say it.  But – you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Small is beautiful. 

About The Author

Helen Saich
National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS)
Changing Minds, Changing Services, Changing Lives for those living with RA and JIA