Why We're Supporting The Encephalitis Society at Our York Christmas Fair
Living North’s chosen charity for this year’s Christmas Fair is the Encephalitis Society. We’re delighted to be raising money for this Malton-based charity who are raising awareness of this little-known condition on the world stage
Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain caused by an infection (such as measles, flu and, recently, Covid-19) or through the immune system attacking the brain in error. Unfortunately, it has a high death rate and many of the survivors of the condition are left with an acquired brain injury. Staggeringly, 500,000 people are affected by encephalitis globally each year.
That’s why the Encephalitis Society offers support for anyone affected by encephalitis, all over the world. ‘We’re really the only resource of our kind providing the services that we do – so that’s something for Yorkshire to be proud of,’ says chief executive Dr Ava Easton.
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Their main goals are to provide support and information for patients and families and the professionals supporting them, to raise awareness, and to drive research. ‘We know from various research that eight out of 10 people around the world don’t know what encephalitis is,’ Ava says. ‘That’s something that we aim to try and change. We also support researchers around the world to better understand encephalitis and improve diagnosis, treatment and management.’
The charity share their message in a variety of ways. In 2018, Ava and her team worked with Channel 4’s Hollyoaks on a storyline involving Dee Dee Hutchinson, a four-year-old character who had been affected by encephalitis. Ava and her team visited the set of Hollyoaks and met with the research team early on in the filming of these scenes to collaborate with them. It was important for both the charity and the show to make sure the storyline was as accurate as possible.
It’s a Sin and Emmerdale actor Mathew Bose is an ambassador for the Encephalitis Society and has been since 2007 (raising more than £50,000 for the charity). Now The Encephalitis Podcast is providing a platform for more well-known voices (such as four-time Olympic medallist and fellow ambassador of the charity Rebecca Adlington) to talk about their personal experiences with encephalitis.
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Ava has worked for the Encephalitis Society for nearly 25 years. ‘There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not profoundly grateful for being able to do the amazing work that I do,’ she adds.
The charity recently completed a global analysis of encephalitis which has resulted in a 170-page report. Now the Encephalitis Society is in discussions with global stake holders including the World Health Organisation about how they can change the landscape of encephalitis around the world.
Prompt diagnosis reduces mortality and improves outcomes, and it’s important that doctors carry out investigations quickly to establish the correct diagnosis. With the only go-to encephalitis conference (which the charity hold in London each year), they continue to spread the importance of diagnosing early and they hope to continue making an impact. At our Christmas Fair this year, we’re delighted to be able to help them do just that.