Regional Arthritis Support Groups have been active since we had regional offices all over New Zealand. Local support groups are wonderful, supportive places to meet others with Arthritis in your local community.

Here are some stories from people who volunteer in local support groups…

I became a volunteer in the late 1980’s.  The then-Secretary of the old division of the Whanganui Support Group asked me to come onto the Division committee. I am just the supporter, my wife had severe Rheumatoid Arthritis and I wanted to support her because she got so much out of the group at that stage. Since then there had always seemed to be a need – or something needed to be done so I just got on and did it!
David Orr

Volunteer, Whanganui Support Group

I started my involvement with Arthritis New Zealand when it was still known as the Foundation of Arthritis and we were fortunate to be recipients of Telethon. At that time, I was working as an Occupational Therapist and together with a Physiotherapist we were given information and charts to hold seminars in our district on the various types of Arthritis, treatments and how to live with it.

When I retired I became involved with the Whangarei Support Group which was then run by the late Maree Douglas. It had been running for some years already and now is run by Thelma, Steve, Val and myself. We have lots of fun and next month we will be back in action, followed by our mid-winter lunch at a local Thai restaurant.

As a group, we enjoy the support we can give each other and enjoy the chance to spread the word about Arthritis New Zealand particularly when out and about fundraising.

I have seen many changes over the last years in the support group and this will continue as times change but we will find ways to cope with this as our members cope with the difficulties they encounter. We are a resilient group.

Els Dutton

Volunteer, Whangarei Support Group

I have had psoriatic arthritis for 30 years, so I know all about the pain and suffering that goes hand in hand with this condition.

I am the coordinator for the arthritis support group in Hokitika.

We meet every month, we have an amazing group of about 20 people who have many helpful hints and wisdom for managing their arthritis.

Every couple of months we have a speaker, and our group receives great support from the Arthritis New Zealand educators who come to Hokitika and keep us informed with updates and advice on many topics.

When you are newly diagnosed with arthritis it is handy to know that Arthritis New Zealand and support groups are there to help.

Julie Towers

Volunteer, Hokitika Support Group

I was first told I had osteoarthritis about 20 years ago and then CPPD about 12 years ago. It is now widespread, and over the past few years, I have had many surgical procedures as my joints have become progressively more damaged.

In all the years since my initial diagnosis, I have not once been given much information on how to get further support or education by my primary physician. But with my enquiring mind and some determination, I found Arthritis New Zealand and have been a volunteer for 10 years. I have enjoyed the resources Arthritis New Zealand supply and attended many educational sessions, and when asked if I would be interested in starting a local support group, was more than happy to do this. To this day we have a small but enthusiastic group – we meet once a month and every second or third month invite a guest speaker to talk to us. We have really enjoyed talks by the likes of pharmacists, physiotherapists, occupational and massage therapists.

My dream is that all primary practices will one day work in partnership with organisations such as Arthritis New Zealand, so consumers will know what is available to support them to make the best of every day as they go about their lives – the sorts of things that a GP can’t provide given time and cost constraints, but the organisation can. Part of my dream is that these organisations are funded by the government as part and parcel of health care.

Karen Browne

Volunteer, Mosgiel

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