Highlights of 2010 - our first year as Parkinson's UK

What a year 2010 has been – especially with the launch of our 6 goals for 2010-2014, as well as our transformation to Parkinson's UK in April.

We've had a great response to our new vision and identity. Many more people have engaged with us as a result. This is just one way we're striving to achieve our 1st goal: no one has to face Parkinson's alone.

Image right: TV presenter John Stapleton, one of our celebrity supporters

Our 2nd goal is: we will listen and respond to the needs of everyone affected by Parkinson's.

This year our helpline 0808 800 0303 has been awarded the Helplines Association's accreditation.

And we've achieved the Department of Health's Information Standard for our publications and resources. Both these awards are an important part of our work to make our information and advice accessible for everyone.

2010 also saw Parkinson's UK play a key role in some major projects, which have helped us to continue to achieve the 3rd of our goals: we will improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson's.

We were a major partner in the hugely successful second World Parkinson Congress in Glasgow.

Researchers, healthcare professionals and people affected by Parkinson's came together for 3 days to create a global movement for change for people with Parkinson's.

Image: Bob Taylor, one of our members, playing on the Nintendo Wii at the World Parkinson Congress

The congress, the launch of our research strategy and our successful York research conference demonstrated our leadership in the research community. These highlighted our work towards our 4th goal: our research will have resulted in better treatments and progress towards a cure. Read more about 2010 Parkinson's research achievements - celebrating an exciting year in Parkinson's research.

This year also marked the start of research into the benefits of the Nintendo Wii for people with Parkinson's. Oscar-winning actress and face of the Wii, Helen Mirren, spoke to The Guardian and ITV's Daybreak about her support for our Fair Care for Parkinson's campaign.

And Karen Rose, a member of our Bristol Branch, starred in Nintendo's TV adverts talking about how using the Wii helps her manage her Parkinson's.

2010 has also been our best ever year for fundraising, thanks to all of our dedicated supporters. This is a big step towards us reaching our fundraising target of £110million by 2014: goal 5.

Image right: Our Bexley and Dartford Branch manning their information and fundraising stand

These are just a few successes from 2010, all of which contribute to helping us achieve our 6th goal: to be a united, focused and effective organisation.

None of this would be possible without the hard work of our dedicated supporters, volunteers and staff.

What were your highlights from 2010? Tell us your goals for 2011 – what do you want to achieve next year?

We wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

New cuts could jeopardise UK Parkinson's research

Back in September we joined the Science is Vital campaign against proposed cuts of 40% to UK science funding in the Government's autumn spending review.

And in October we were relieved to hear that science had escaped the worst of the budget cuts - with Vince Cable promising to ring-fence £4.6billion for science over the next 4 years.

But this week science funding bodies have learned that they will have to absorb devastating cuts of 41% to their capital expenditure.

'Capital expenditure' is money spent on essentials like building, maintenance and equipment. So slashing investment by 41% will put major pressure on UK science funders and the money will probably have to come from scientific grant budgets.

We're aiming to continue to increase our Parkinson's research spending year on year. But, like all charities, we rely heavily upon a backbone of government investment in research. Their funding supports UK universities and organisations like DeNDRoN that provide essential resources to the research community.

These new cuts could seriously jeopardise the momentum we've been building for the last 40 years and have a devastating impact on medical research in the UK for years to come.

Speeding up the search for a Parkinson's cure

We were one of the research charities at the 'Partnering for Cures' conference in New York earlier this week. One key question needed to be answered - how can the international research community break down barriers, learn to trust, and share information across different areas of research?

A priority for us at Parkinson's UK is finding out why nerve cells die to enable us to identify and develop new drugs. This is where collaboration gets exciting.

We know that some of the changes that occur in nerve cells affected by Parkinson's also occur in other conditions. And one of the researchers we fund in the UK, Professor Dario Alessi from Dundee, also has expertise in developing drugs to treat cancer.

Dario wants to use this expertise to develop new Parkinson's drugs. Some may already have been screened for other conditions. We're also developing animal models of Parkinson's, so we can work together with industry to screen potential new drugs that they may already have sitting on their shelves.

Sharing information is crucial. Many clinical trials for Parkinson's have taken place in the last few years, and the data for each is stored separately. Why not pool together everything we know so we can really understand why Parkinson's develops? And we can help to co-ordinate the sharing of information.

The message we've taken away from this week's meeting is that our Parkinson's UK research can really make a difference, combined with the powerful voice of our members promoting research, and our willingness to work together internationally.

After all, we are all working together for a common goal - to speed up the search for a cure for Parkinson's.

Leaving the comfort zone in 2011

As the year draws to a close, many of us will be thinking about what personal challenges to set ourselves for 2011.

We all know that eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help us keep in shape and improve our sense of wellbeing. Taking that first step which takes us out of our comfort zone can be the hardest part.

30 of our supporters returned this week from Trek Nepal. Amongst the trekkers was Roddy Lee (pictured on the left of this photo, with fellow trekker Chris).

Having Parkinson's for 3 years hasn't stopped Roddy from testing his abilities to the full.

Here are some extracts from Roddy's trek diary:

"I remember promising to myself and my family, following my own diagnosis, that for as long as I am able I shall do all I can to raise funds for research into the causes of, and cures for, Parkinson's...

"A positive approach to managing my Parkinson's, with a healthy exercise regime and setting of achievable goals, helps me come to terms with the condition...

"Strange as though it may sound, Parkinson's has opened up new boundaries to me. It has afforded me new and challenging opportunities and as I pull off my boots at the end of each gruelling day I thank God and all around me that I am still able to lead as full a life as I do."

If you've been inspired by Roddy's story, why not sign up for a Parkinson's UK challenge next year and get your own adrenalin flowing?

You can:

Visit our Events page to find out more about other types of events you can take part in.

Time to take that first step?

A choice between freedom or 4 walls?

We think that maintaining an independent life doesn't end when a person enters residential care.

The Government has recently proposed that the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) mobility component be removed from those in publicly funded residential care. This will leave many without the opportunity to do things like lease specially adapted vehicles from the Motability Scheme, or pay for accessible transport to get out in their community.

The Government says that the funding provided by local authorities for someone's care duplicates the funding provided by the Disability Living Allowance (DLA). But limited arrangements made by care homes or local authorities are no substitution to the freedom offered by mobility DLA.

Against a background of savage cuts to local authority budgets, it's highly unlikely that councils will step in with new funding for accessible transport. So these changes could mean that many people will be left restricted to live their lives within 4 walls.

We recently wrote to Maria Miller, Minister for Disabled People (PDF file) to object to the Government's plan, set out in October's Comprehensive Spending Review.

If you think that you might be affected by these changes, you can take action. Please write to your local MP about the issue, and ask them to urgently take the matter up with the Minister for Disabled People.

You can also encourage your MP to sign the Early Day Motion 1000 to protest about the changes.

Post your comments here or email our Campaigns team at campaigns@parkinsons.org.uk