Arthritis Care appoints its first director of PA

Arthritis Care has appointed the chairman of the Government’s Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) as its first director of public affairs.

The organisation has promoted Neil Betteridge, who joined as head of public policy and campaigning three years ago, to the new post.

He is tasked with aligning welfare services and website publications more closely with media relations campaigns and lobbying activities. Betteridge reports to chief executive William Butler.

‘We want to transform our members from passive recipients of information into actively involved campaigners,’ said Betteridge, a former head of projects and campaigns for the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR).

‘That way, we will know we’re on the right track when we’re lobbying government on legislation,’ he added.

Arthritis Care uses external PR agencies on an individual project basis and at present is not using any. Betteridge will be working with director of marketing and fundraising Kieran Kettleton to decide which agencies will front its PR campaigns over the coming months.

Current campaigns include the ‘Standards of Care’ project to standardise arthritis treatment across the UK according to National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines and a drive to develop a campaigners’ network across the UK, to bring lobbying and advocacy onto a local level.

Arthritis Care’s most recent campaign to raise awareness about the condition to politicians saw 285 MPs sign an Early Day Motion to make arthritis a government healthcare priority leading to parliamentary questions and debates.

The organisation is currently working with the Welsh Assembly on its national arthritis strategy, promoting arthritis-related public health issues with MEPs and lobbying MPs to include transport discrimination fully in the Disability Discrimination Act.

Betteridge is also vice president of EULAR, (the European League Against Rheumatism) Social Leagues, and chair of Europe’s biggest user group network, PARE (People with Arthritis and Rheumatism in Europe) Manifesto.

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