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Janet Horton: Why I volunteer for FMA UK

My role in FMA UK is as a trustee and my specific role is Benefits Adviser, I also respond to all the emails that come in on the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. emails. I help in any other way also, as needed.

I became involved with FMA UK - then Fibromyagia Association UK in November 1993 when I got my official diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, I had had it 4 years by then. I immediately offered to do benefits advice as I had been volunteering for Citizens Advice since 1990. The offer was accepted and I have been the Benefits Adviser ever since. I was not a trustee at the time but became one when Bob Stewart took over FMA UK in 1997. I took on the role of responding to emails in the early 2000's.

Apart from being available on the Benefits Helpline every Monday, Wednesday and Friday up until 2000 and since then Monday and Friday, I have attended all the conferences that FMA UK have arranged, travelled several times to London for meetings with various bodies of Government including the Chief Medical Officer of the DWP back in the early 2000's.

From 1997 the office was in Stourbridge and the trustees all travelled from different parts of the country 3-4 times a year for meetings. Now fortunately we are able to use the internet for our meetings but still meet up occasionally.

As I am still a volunteer for Citizens Advice, I am able to keep up training for benefits and these days be part of appropriate webinars. I also have internet meetings with such bodies as Motability.

The main thing I enjoy about the volunteering work I do for FMAUK is being able to help people who have Fibromyalgia know what benefits they can possibly access but also talking about managing Fibromyalgia, as well as helping via email. Friendships I have made are also important to me.

I have also enjoyed the interaction with public bodies which has hopefully increased awareness of Fibromyalgia and helped it to become recognised.

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