London Marathon 2011: An inspiring day

Last Sunday 177 inspirational runners from all over the UK took part in the Virgin London Marathon to raise money for Parkinson's UK.

As our photos of the event show, each of our incredible fundraisers had their own personal reasons for tackling the 26.2 mile route through the spectacular scenery of London. But they were all united by a collective will and determination to help us find a cure and improve the life of everyone affected by Parkinson's.

Our teams of friends and family, volunteers and staff turned up in mass at our cheering points throughout the course to support and encourage our runners across the finish line. With the sun shining down, the atmosphere on the course was phenomenal and visibly spurred our runners on as legs and minds began to tire.

Among our runners were stand up comic Rob Deering, Ed Timpson MP and John Watkins - our oldest runner this year at 73 years young. We've already raised £188,000 – towards our £285,000 target - so everyone involved can be extremely proud of themselves.

Take a look at our 2011 London Marathon video, which captures Sunday's atmosphere of determination, emotion and enthusiastic support.

Enough to make you feel inspired for next year? The official ballot opens on 26 April. See our London Marathon webpage for details on how to run for us in 2012.

Or if you're not quite ready to do a marathon, we have a whole range of other events you can take part in.

Together, our voice is louder

During Parkinson's Awareness Week, local groups around the country invited their local MP to meet people with Parkinson's, their families and carers.

We believe that everyone affected by Parkinson's should have access to quality care and the financial support they need. MPs are currently considering fundamental changes to the NHS in England and the welfare system across the UK.

And we're campaigning to make sure that when the changes come, people with Parkinson's get the services they need and the benefits they rely on. Please help us keep Parkinson's on the political agenda:

  • Invite your local MP to meet people affected by Parkinson's. This gives them to opportunity to hear first-hand what it's like to live with the condition and the help they need to maximise their quality of life and independence.

  • Join our National Campaigns Network. Over 3,000 people have signed up in the last year. Taking part helps us improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson's.

Together, our voice is louder.

Steve Brine, MP for Winchester and vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Parkinson's (front row, third from left). Michael and Ann Hone of our Winchester Branch said: "We feel very privileged to have Steve's support. He listens to our concerns and represents us whenever he can."

Jessica Morden MP for Newport East (front centre) attended a photo opportunity at the Riverside Theatre in Newport with the Newport Branch. Ms Morden said they were "a wonderful local support group and very keen fundraisers'.

Edward Timpson MP for Crewe and Nantwich (third from left) with members of the Crewe and District Branch outside St Michaels Church Hall ahead of running the London Marathon to raise money for Parkinson's UK.

Benefits 'handouts': A different perspective

A worrying trend in 'benefits figures published today' media stories would have you believe there are millions living the high life on the welfare state. According to the Telegraph on Monday, there are 2 million people who have unquestioningly received 'handouts for decades'. This figure is the number of disabled people who have an indefinite award of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Over 18,000 people with Parkinson's receive DLA. This is far from a 'handout' - it's a lifeline, a modest but essential payment to support the added cost of a serious disability. And most people with Parkinson's quite rightly receive an indefinite award. For what sense is there – especially in cost to valuable public funds - in constantly reassessing someone whose condition is certain to only progress?

But that's just what the Government is proposing to do.

Meanwhile, work to reassess 1.5 million people on Incapacity Benefit began this week, with claims that 500,000 people 'on sick' are really fit to work. The implication: that half a million are playing the system.

But 'fitness to work' is being assessed by a test so blunt and inadequate that people with some of the severest forms of Parkinson's are being told to get a job. This sort of reporting is not just inaccurate but causes great anxiety for people with Parkinson's.

Join us and others to give the media and Government a reality check. Visit The Hardest Hit website to register for the London protest on 11 May or find out how to protest online.

If you need advice on benefits, contact our helpline for confidential advice and support on 0808 800 0303 or email

NHS reforms: have your say

Many of us will have seen and heard a lot in the news recently about the Health and Social Care Bill - a new piece of legislation currently being discussed by MPs, proposing major changes to the NHS in England.

One of the main proposals will see GPs take control of major decisions on what health care their patients need. GP practices will group together to form consortia, which will take on the role of commissioning most health services for their area.

The Government is giving very little guidance on how big these consortia should be and how they should be run. Because Parkinson’s is not very common, we’re worried that smaller consortia might decide not to commission the full range of specialist therapists and nurses necessary for people with Parkinson’s.

We’ve been asking MPs and Ministers to change the Bill so that GP consortia have to work together when they arrange health care for Parkinson’s. We're also working with other neurological charities that will be affected, to tell Government how important it is to make changes to the Bill (PDF).

And we need your help. If you live in England, we want you to email your MP and ask them to write to Andrew Lansley the Secretary of State for Health, supporting these changes.

You can send a message to your MP on our website now.