A talk with Chris Yarrington 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?
I’m the Partnerships Manager at MRF
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 was founded 30 years ago in 1989 by a group of families affected by meningitis, who wanted to support research and each other. We aren’t just about research, and the support that we provide to individuals and families affected by meningitis is central to our work. Our goal is to defeat meningitis wherever it exists, and we work in the UK and Ireland, and also internationally. We are currently working with the World Health Organization with the aim of making meningitis a global health priority.
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?
I originally joined MRF as Senior Trust Fundraiser in 2018, and since May 2019 I have been the Partnerships Manager, looking after Charitable Trusts and Foundations along with Corporate Partnerships; however, my links to MRF go right back to my time as a student in Bath RAG, participating in street collections 15 years ago. Thankfully there is no photographic evidence of my first MRF collection!
A lot of my role involves building and developing strong partnerships with companies, from small local businesses carrying out fundraising, to regional law firms and international pharmaceutical companies supporting our work. I love the variety of my role, and learning about the things that make for a great partnership.
4. What are the main aims of the charity?
We want a world that promises more for people and families at risk of meningitis and septicaemia, and for those already living with the after effects of the disease.
We have three key goals: to see fewer people get meningitis and septicaemia; to see more people survive with a better quality of life and reduced disability; and to have more engaged, informed and supported patients and communities.
To do this, we fund research, we advocate for change, and we take action to get results.
5. Is there a particular project or aim that you’d like to share with people or a focus over the next 12 months?
We’ve got lots going on this year! In the UK we’ll be launching Meningitis Mentors, which will be an online video hub for peer support and sharing tips about managing the long term impacts of meningitis.
Many people seeking support and information about meningitis don’t want to pick up the telephone, and our recently launched Support Chat feature on our website enables individuals to contact our support team, to get information and support, and signposting to the information they need.
6. What motivated you to do the job/role that you are doing now?
I’ve worked in Trust Fundraising since leaving University more than ten years ago, and have always felt I fitted best in health and disability charities.
Having joined MRF as a Trust Fundraiser I knew that MRF was the charity where I wanted to develop my career. The work MRF is doing in the UK and overseas is incredible. For a small charity, we have massive ambitions! I’m really excited to develop the work that we do with partners, whilst building a great team.
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?
Our Corporate and Trust Fundraiser, Alice, recently joined the team and is already doing amazing work with some of our partners!
The support MRF receives from Charitable Trusts and Foundations is vital to enable us to fund much needed research into meningitis, as well as our core support services.
8. It’s likely that somebody new to the services of the charity is reading this. What would you like to say to them?
Meningitis and septicaemia can kill in hours. Make sure you know the symptoms to look out for – you can find them here.
9. What are your specific hopes for the future in terms Meningitis Research Foundation?
In May 2020 we hope that the Global Roadmap for meningitis will be ratified by the World Health Assembly. If we are going to defeat meningitis it is vital that it is seen as a priority health issue, and the World Health Assembly is our best opportunity to make that a reality. In reality we want to see a world where charities like MRF don’t need to exist.
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?
We’re very grateful to Wolferstans for their kind support and awareness raising, and for giving us opportunities to talk about our work! If you or your company would like to join Wolferstans in supporting MRF’s work we’d love to hear from you!
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