The British fundraising group The October Club and The MS Trust, a U.K. multiple sclerosis research and support organization, have announced an ambitious plan to potentially help thousands of advanced MS patients in need of services.
Composed of people working in the financial equity industry in London, The October Club raises money for a different charity each year through the annual fundraising dinner it first held in October 1987. The group chooses charities based for the “transformational” potential that monetary support could bring.
To date, these dinners have brought in more than £10 million (about $12.7 million), with an average of about £500,000 ($636,300) being given to the year’s selected charity to support new research or educational projects, enable expansion plans, or otherwise help an innovative, fledgling charities advance with its work.
For its 30th anniversary, the Club has chosen to support the MS Trust’s Advanced MS Champions project, and the often neglected but specialist services needed by people whose MS is in advanced stages. These people, that Trust notes in its Champions report, are in increasing need of help because they make up a “growing portion of the MS caseload” — up to 40 percent of all MS patients in the U.K. are, by some estimates, thought to be in later disease stages based on functional disability (mobility and balance problems, severe pain and fatigue, spasticity, cognitive problems, etc.). The Trust, citing data sources, estimates that between 32,000 and 43,000 MS patients in the U.K. have advanced disease.
At the same time, because these patients are not likely to be using the disease-modifying therapies that are increasingly a focus of MS assistance and research, they are less likely to be included in available services, despite their need. “Many services recognise that team resources are being diverted away from those with advanced MS and the need to take corrective action to make their service more equitable for their whole caseload,” the MS Trust says in the report.
Money raised by the October Club for the Trust’s project will initially fund six new MS Champions over a three-year period, who will work to address the urgent need for bringing coordinated MS care to patients. Initial efforts will target select communities, trying out different care approaches and models ahead of a national roll-out.
“Since 1987 the October Club has been proud to give something back, by helping small charities make a huge difference,” Mark Pumfrey, chair of The October Club, said in a press release. We’re delighted that for our 30th anniversary we will be helping a great charity, the MS Trust, transform support for people living with a desperately challenging condition.”
Champions will work together with MS patients and their families to better understand their particular needs, applying specialist knowledge to help with symptom management and with identifying potential problems before they become emergencies. They will co-ordinate care received from other specialists, such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and palliative and social care workers, to provide optimal support for patients.
“The MS Trust is honoured to have been chosen to work with The October Club,” said Pam Macfarlane, chief executive of the MS Trust. “Our work over the past five years has shown that people with advanced MS and their families all too often miss out on vital specialist care. The generous support of The October Club will enable us to act boldly on our research and make a huge difference for these people today.”
The MS Trust plans to build on this pilot Advanced MS Champions project, and to request a commitment from the country’s National Health Service to permanently fund the program.
The October Club reports that its annual October Club Dinner, typically attended by about 400 people, has become London’s leading “Business Trade association event,” and is a sold-out event every year.