February 22, 2017

Volunteering for LIVErNORTH

By Marian Godwin

The charity that I fundraise for is LIVErNORTH, an adult liver patient support group based at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne. LIVErNORTH is run by unpaid volunteers and provides services including a newsletter, regular meetings and a helpline to UK liver patients, their carers and families.

About three years ago, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune liver disease called Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC). It’s easy to get down in the dumps about something like this, but LIVErNorth provides counselling and I started attending patient support meetings and met others with poorly livers. It’s sometimes difficult to talk about liver disease as there is a stigma attached; many immediately assume that it is alcohol or lifestyle related, but as I found out there are over 100 diseases and conditions that can affect the liver and only two or three that are alcohol related.

There are several clinical trials going on at the moment for PBC and I’ve been able to take part in five since being diagnosed (one was a trial medication which turned my tears orange!). Although there is no cure, my NHS consultant, who is on the LIVErNORTH advisory board, is passionate about this disease and is confident that if no cure is found in the next five years, there will at least be a targeted genetic treatment unique to each patient. Amongst other things, LIVErNORTH supports a laboratory at Newcastle University Medical School, the leading centre for liver disease research & treatment in the UK.

I can’t thank LIVErNORTH enough for their support and the information that they give out at the meetings and in the leaflets. Did you know that if you have a chronic illness, it’s difficult to get travel insurance? And sometimes the insurance costs more than the ticket! LIVErNORTH provide advice and advocacy for members having difficulty with insurance, healthcare provision, allowances or entitlements. The group has governors with legal, medical, social and scientific qualifications.

One thing that LIVErNORTH is very proud of is that it is run entirely by volunteers and 100% of donations received are spent on research, leaflets, meetings, newsletter, helpline, and accommodation at the Freeman Hospital for patients, their carers and families who find travel to and from the hospital too difficult. I have been volunteering at LIVErNORTH since 2013 and last year helped at the Annual Autumn Fair fundraiser to help give something back to the charity.

Cundall has been brilliant and has supported my voluntary work with LIVErNORTH. They donated the tea, coffee, sugar, biscuits and milk for the tea stall at the Fair fundraiser in September raising over £4,000 that day. Cundall also donated the monies raised from the raffle at the Formal Christmas Dinner in December (£149), Christmas Jumper Day (£83.20), Partners’ New Year Raffle (£103), and my own Christmas Gift Wrapping Service, where I encouraged colleagues into allowing me to wrap their gifts for £1. I raised £32 and gained a couple of hours for Cundall’s 40th Anniversary Volunteering.

To find out more about LIVErNorth, you can contact Marian in our Newcastle Office or visit http://www.livernorth.org.uk/index.htm

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Charitable Work, Marian Godwin

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