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Hidden disease in the spot light in York: more about Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.)

M.E awareness: Liberal Democrats look to kick-start campaign on the hidden disease

In a motion to Council on the 22nd March, Liberal Democrat Councillors are looking to kick-start a campaign to raise awareness on the often overlooked and hidden disease; Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, otherwise known as M.E.

M.E. is a chronic, neurological condition that causes symptoms affecting many body systems to an estimated 800 people in York, 250,000 people in the UK and around 17 million people worldwide.  Many who suffer from the disease often report that diagnosis can take months, or even years, and that there is a lack of awareness amongst the majority of clinicians.

M.E remains largely out of the public conscience and therefore, is often referred to as a ‘hidden’ disease.  In response, the York Liberal Democrats are calling on the Council to initiate a public awareness campaign in the build up to M.E Awareness Day on the 12th May.  This will include:

  • Using the ‘city lights’ to light up landmarks such as the City Walls and West Offices on International M.E Awareness Day.
  • To initiate a communications campaign, utilising the Council’s distribution and communication networks to generate awareness of M.E in York, allowing York to lead a national debate on the subject.
  • Providing training to senior Council representatives, in order to increase understanding of the disease at the heart of the Council.

Cllr Keith Aspden (left), Bill Clayton (centre) and Cllr Carol Runciman (right).

Councillor Carol Runciman, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health, said:

“Living with ME is challenging. People may struggle with debilitating symptoms and other problems, but it is important to remember that support is out there and this is crucial in dealing with any illness. By raising awareness, we can spread this message and better our understanding of the disease.”

“In York, we are lucky to have the York M.E Community and the Yorkshire Fatigue Clinic, who both provide excellent support to those suffering from the disease in York.  We must build on the work they do and promote what they can do to help.”

Bill Clayton, founder of the York ME Community, added:

“M.E is something that is likely to be affecting someone you know, without you realising it.  It could be someone missing from work, school, or even the football team.  We don’t see them, as most are often bedbound and hidden from society.

“There are millions missing from their lives due to this devastating illness and I would like to thank the York Liberal Democrats for backing this drive to raise M.E Awareness.  This illness isn’t political however, and so I plead with all parties to back this campaign and help your community, The York ME Community.”

“Festival of York Central” exhibition – Dates announced

The York Central Partnership is launching the ‘Festival of York Central’ and calling on the people of York to join the conversation around the site and help shape this part of the city for future generations.

An exhibition exploring the emerging masterplan for the development is at the centre of the festival, and will be open to the public from the 21 March to 27 April 2018, in The Gallery at the National Railway Museum.

Accompanying the exhibition, My Future York are organising a wide programme of events, under the My York Central project. This will include walking tours, workshops and speaking events, to further capture the needs and ideas of York residents and explore the challenges that York Central faces. The full programme of events and timings will be available at
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Citizens Advice York:  Service extended for a further 12 months

Cllr Carol Runciman (Centre), Simon Topham of Citizens Advice York (right) and John Short, Chair of Citizens Advice York (left)

In an Executive Member Decision session held today, Cllr Carol Runciman, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Financial Inclusion, has granted a 12-month extension to continue services run by Citizens Advice York.

Over recent months, a series of discussions have taken place between the York Liberal Democrats and Citizens Advice York to guarantee the long term sustainable future of the service.

In regular conversations with Citizens Advice York, it has been repeatedly highlighted that the service needed to recruit and train more volunteer advisors.   However, since the beginning of 2018, Citizens Advice York has reported that the training of volunteers is progressing well.  Once volunteers are trained, the service will be able to increase its capacity and once again, apply for further funding from the Financial Inclusion fund.

During the 12 month period, Citizens Advice York will conduct an internal review on the performance of their service.  The Liberal Democrats will be working closely with Citizens Advice York during this period to ensure sustainable and effective future service provision is in place.

Cllr Carol Runciman, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Financial Inclusion, said:

“As the Executive Member with responsibility for financial inclusion, I am in regular contact with Citizens Advice York and together, we are both working to maintain service provision for the residents of York.”

“Money is not the only solution here and currently, Citizens Advice York is prioritising the training of volunteer advisors to improve the service.  At this moment in time, Citizens Advice York has been granted a 12 month service extension to the service; so that they can review the service after a year has passed.”

“Once more advisors are trained and Citizens Advice York are happy with their own performance, the York Liberal Democrats will support Citizens Advice to once again apply for the Financial Inclusion Fund and deliver a sustainable service for many years to come.”

Barbican made available for local groups

City of York Council is inviting York-based groups, clubs or community organisations to apply for a discounted, concessionary day’s hire of York Barbican.

The council offers the concessionary days as part of its lease agreement with the Barbican’s operators, SMG. It’s interested in hearing from organisations who would like to take up one of the two bookings available in 2019.

The proposed events should be open and accessible to all. They should positively engage York’s communities, either by providing new opportunities for local residents to get involved as participants in putting on a show or event, or by creating new audiences, drawing in those who would not normally have the opportunity to attend cultural events. Above all, events must add to the quality and vibrancy of York’s offer. Events which are primarily designed to be fund-raisers are not supported.

Recent events have included Tang Hall SMART hosting an event involving a wide range of community groups from the Tang Hall area in an inclusive community gig.

Later this year, the York Music Hub Festival, attracting around 1,000 performers drawn from schools, out of school provision and community groups, will celebrate the musical achievements of children and young people across the city whilst, in the second event, the LGBT forum will be creating an evening of song and dance to celebrate a life of diversity in York for the whole city. Continue reading

Big jobs fair in York next week

70 employers and 800 attendees expected

From 10am to 2pm at the York Railway Institute (RI), Queen Street, around 70 employers and training providers including John Lewis, Aviva and the North Yorkshire Police are expected along with some 800 visitors.

Funded and organised by City of York Council in partnership with Job Centre Plus, this latest job fair brings together employers, employment support agencies, and education and training providers to offer local people job opportunities, information and advice

Cllr Keith Aspden, executive member for economic development and community engagement, said: “The fair is aimed at those looking for employment, people considering a change of job or career and those who would like to develop new skills and gain new qualifications.

“This is always a really worthwhile event, so do go along if you can.”

Today is national “no smoking day”

I couldn’t do it without coming for support’ – Council backs national no smoking day and asks people wanting to kick the habit to get in

City of York Council is supporting national no smoking day on Wednesday 14 March and reminding residents that support is available for those who want to kick the habit.

Smoking kills 79,000 people every year1 and one person is admitted to hospital in England every minute with a smoking-related illness. The council’s YorWellbeing service, which looks to help residents improve their health and wellbeing, can offer advice and support to help change smoking behaviours, as well as advise which medications to buy to help you quit, if necessary.

Susan, a 49 year old medical secretary from Strensall stopped smoking 20 cigarettes a day twenty months ago after being a serious smoker for over 34 years.  She tried her first cigarette at 7 and first packet at 11, starting smoking properly at 14.

She came to the council for support to help her quit “I couldn’t have done it without coming for support.  There is so much to say and talk about when you’re changing a life time habit, and support and being heard was a big part of that.” Her two previous attempts to stop before then hadn’t lasted longer than two months.

Susan was diagnosed with health problems related to her smoking three years ago and despite these ongoing health worries causing stress, is still determined not to smoke.

After quitting Susan has noticed health improvements already.

“I have better skin, my voice is less deep and I am sleeping well and breathing better.  My asthma has improved so much that I don’t worry about having to climb the stairs any more.

“This time round I feel I am in a different place.”

No smoking day comes after last month the council’s YorWellbeing service announced that Heworth Rugby Club and York RI New Lane community sports club became the city’s first smoke free sports clubs.

Councillor Carol Runciman, Executive Member for health and adult social care said: “You are three times more likely to quit with help and support3. Anyone wanting to quit can contact our team where they will get advice and support from our YorWellbeing advisers to help.

“Quitting smoking is among the best things that you can do for your health. The health improvements seen from Susan are just one example of how kicking the habit can make a real difference.”

Those wanting to quit smoking can get in touch with our YorWellbeing service. As well as help to quit the team can offer advice and support to help residents to live happier healthier lives.

For more information contact the YorWellbeing service on  or 01904 553377 or visit for details of the support available.