Healthcare: Awareness Campaign Close-up - Climb searches for 'befrienders'

Organisation: Children Living with Inherited Metabolic Diseases (Climb)

Campaign: Metabolic Disease Awareness Week

PR team: In-house

Date: 2-9 July

Climb's awareness week this year heralds the launch of 'Friends of Climb', an initiative to boost its volunteers from the current 100. Plans will be unveiled on the charity's website on 1 July, in magazine Climb Update and at an open day at the organisation's Crewe HQ on 7 July.

The aim is to recruit as many volunteers as possible in four categories: 'befrienders', who act as a listening ear for patients, HQ admin staff, fundraisers and general awareness raisers.

Metabolic diseases, caused by genetic enzyme deficiencies, include cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy, and affect more than 16,000 UK families.

Climb sees befrienders as a priority because, as well as requiring training, the charity has just 14 nationwide. It wants at least one befriender in each of the NHS's 28 strategic health authorities in England. The charity will also seek to boost the number of counsellors in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Climb wants the Home Office to add a link to Friends of Climb on its Year of the Volunteer website in time for the awareness week.

It will also announce the winner of its annual photography competition at the open day, to which patients, their families and the public are invited.

Reps are set to visit events around the country, including a 'Ladies Day' craft fair outside Swindon. For further details contact Climb regional and development manager Lesley Greene on 0870 7700326.

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