Meet the new Chair of the APPG for MS

Thu 30 March 2023

Joe Brunwin

Last week, Charlotte Nichols, MP for Warrington North, was elected as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Multiple Sclerosis.

The APPG for MS is a cross-party group of Parliamentarians who are committed to tackling the issues that affect people with MS. It's made up of MPs and peers from all parties who help to make sure MS issues are high on the UK Government’s agenda.

We spoke to Charlotte about why she’s excited to Chair the APPG this year.

What inspired you to sign up to the APPG for MS?

"I’ve had a relationship with the MS society since I was in year 7. My granddad had MS, which he was diagnosed with when my dad turned 3. By 6 years old, he was unable to work anymore and my grandmother cared for him full time.

"Then, in secondary school, my best friend’s dad was diagnosed with MS and we began fundraising for the MS Society. We used to the sell the MS Society orange wristbands at school, beaded bracelets and MS Society Christmas decorations! We volunteered at our local farm in Reading when they did fundraising events for the MS Society for lambing weekends and a bluebell walk.

"When I came into Parliament, a friend of mine was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS and I got involved in the MS Society’s PIP Fails campaign.

MS is something I’ve always been aware of, so when the MS Society approached me about the APPG, I was keen to get involved."

What policy areas are you most excited to be working on this year?

"To mark the 70th anniversary of the MS Society this year, the APPG plans to spotlight some of the challenges that people with MS face today, and the opportunities presented by cutting edge research into the future.

"Sessions with the APPG will look at findings from My MS My Needs 4, treatments and services for progressive MS. We'll also have a session on medicinal cannabis which I’m particularly looking forward to. I’m also really interested in mental health support and will be attending a roundtable with the MS Society and other MS charities on mental health in May. It’s so important that people with MS are provided with the right support on diagnosis and have access to specialist services. Carers also need to be provided with the right support too.

"Finally – the cost of living continues to be a huge priority for me in my role as MP. Reform to the welfare system is particularly interesting, looking at reducing barriers to accessing support and benefits. I hear a lot about how dehumanising the benefits process can be, and I’m pleased this is something the MS Society will be looking at this year."

What inspired you to be an MP?

"My dad was a trade union leader for a small specialist union and my parents met at a trade union conference!

We were brought up on values that you have to fight for what you need collectively. As an individual, it’s very hard to make real change. But as a community we’re stronger. It’s why organisations like the MS Society are so important."

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