A talk with Samantha Williams of Meningitis Research Foundation. Thank you for working with us to create a unique blog about you, and the development of your charity. We hope this will help to raise awareness of all that has been achieved so far and help to develop the further the aims of the charity.
1. What is your role within Meningitis Research Foundation?
Media Relations Manager
2. To start us off, please can you let us know a little about how the charity was founded and your motivation?
Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) was founded in 1989 by families in the UK whose children tragically died as a result of meningitis or septicaemia. Today we’re a UK and international charity with offices in Bristol, Edinburgh, Belfast and Dublin, whose vision is a world free from meningitis and septicaemia.
3. What is your role within the charity, how long have you been doing it, and what does an average day look like for you?
My role is to raise awareness of meningitis and septicaemia – of the symptoms people should look out for, and the vaccines that are available to prevent some of the main types of the disease. I’ve been in the role for almost 3 years but the time has flown by.
Meningitis and septicaemia are deadly diseases that strike without warning. In the UK, one in ten people affected will die and a third of survivors will be left with after-effects, some as serious as brain damage, amputations, blindness or hearing loss. After effects may be temporary or permanent, physical or emotional.
I couldn’t do my job without the help of the individuals and families affected by the disease who come forward to bravely share their stories to raise awareness so that others do not have to go through what they have.
Much of my time is spent preparing press materials for awareness campaigns or writing press releases about the fantastic work the charity is doing.
4. What are the main aims of the charity?
Meningitis Research Foundation’s main aim is to defeat meningitis wherever it exists. We fund and support vital scientific research. We campaign and provide information to the public, health professionals and researchers that promotes prevention, early diagnosis and treatment, and raises awareness of the diseases. We also provide direct support and ongoing personal help to individuals and families affected, whether they are living with impairment caused by the diseases or coping with the death of a loved one.
5. Is there a particular project or aim that you’d like to share with people or a focus over the next 12 months?
MRF has always stressed the importance of a coordinated effort to defeat meningitis and septicaemia around the world, as the disease passes from human to human without respect for national borders.
In 2018, the World Health Organization launched the Defeating Meningitis by 2030 initiative and MRF is delighted to be taking part in the taskforce behind it, with activities already underway this year. Follow us on social media for updates and simple ways to get involved to help us defeat meningitis.
6. What motivated you to do the job/role that you are doing now?
I was keen to work for a charity that is tackling such a terrible disease. We know that raising awareness helps save lives and that’s what keeps us motivated.
7. Who else do you work alongside within the charity? Are there any charities that support you, or perhaps a colleague/volunteer that you couldn’t manage without?
I rely on all the different teams within the charity – from fundraising to support to research and international programmes – updating me with what’s going on in their work so I can get the important stories and updates out there. This gives our members and supporters hope that progress is being made.
8. It’s likely that somebody new to the services of the charity is reading this. What would you like to say to them?
Major progress has been made in reducing the number of cases of meningitis in the UK and Ireland in the 30 years the charity has been working, but meningitis is still here, and we’re not slowing down until we see it defeated everywhere, for everyone.
9. What are your specific hopes for the future in terms Meningitis Research Foundation?
I’m confident that the charity will continue doing great work in the UK, Ireland and around the world. Thanks to our brilliant senior staff we have helped make meningitis an international health priority and it’s an exciting prospect to see the progress that will be made now that we’re working with partners on a much larger scale.
10. Thank you so much for taking part in this interview series. Lastly, before we finish - Is there anything else about you, the charity or your job/role that you’d like to let people know about?
Find out more at www.meningitis.org
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