Brum’s businesses called on to help fight Parkinson’s stigma

Every hour, two people in the UK are told they have Parkinson’s – a progressive brain condition that turns lives upside down, leaving a future full of uncertainty. In the West Midlands alone, there are over 12,000 people living with Parkinson’s.  We estimate that around 145,000 people in the UK have the condition – that’s around 1 in 350 adults in the UK. 

And it’s not simply an ‘old person’s condition’. You could be working with someone who is living with Parkinson’s and not even realise. Parkinson’s doesn’t discriminate – it can affect anyone at any time.

As well as the physical symptoms, people with Parkinson’s are also affected by stigma. There have been many instances where they have been asked to leave shops, refused entry to a pub or even thrown off public transport.

1 in 4 people have had their Parkinson’s confused for drunkenness, and 1 in 10 have been laughed at in public due to their symptoms.

There are too many cases where people are mistreated in shops and venues because of their Parkinson’s.

Asking businesses to unite to educate and tackle Parkinson’s stigma

We are asking for business to help us tackle the stigma and raise awareness of what Parkinson’s really is.  

As more people are affected by Parkinson’s, we need your help to ensure nobody faces their journey alone.

There are lots of ways businesses and other organisations can help:

  • Sign our petition asking businesses to Unite for Parkinson’s by making their spaces more Parkinson’s friendly:
  • Take part in one of our local events, such as our Birmingham Abseil – put a corporate team in, volunteer or simply help to promote it
  • Sign up for our free awareness session to equip your staff with knowledge of Parkinson’s.
  • Make us your charity of the year and get involved with all kinds of great fundraising events
  • Sign up for Payroll Giving – an easy and tax efficient way for employees to give regularly
  • Recycle stamps, unwanted currency, old gadgets, even cars!
  • Hold a fundraising event – a cake sale, a car wash, a dress down day – and donate the proceeds to us!

John’s Story:

John Hinson is 55 and has Parkinson’s.  On more than one occasion, he’s been accused of being drunk.

“It’s really important to me that other people have an understanding and tolerance of my Parkinson’s.  I have the condition and I can’t do anything about it.

“I often get abused by members of the public because of my Parkinson’s.  Once when I was trying to board a train, the train guard blew his whistle at me and asked me to hurry and get a move on.  I tried to explain that I was moving as quickly as I could. A few weeks later I was getting the same train and the guard asked to see my ticket.  I explained to him it was going to take some time for me to get my ticket out, to which the guard replied, ‘more like you’ve had one too many’. It was soul destroying, and when I got home I burst into tears.

“I’m now very conscious that I’m giving the impression to people that I’m drunk. I was having trouble at the bank the other day and was moving slowly, and I was sure someone would come over and try to kick me out.

“Having your confidence knocked by people accusing you of being drunk is awful.  It’s bad enough having Parkinson’s and all the symptoms that go with it like anxiety, depression, and being unable to do simple everyday tasks such as dressing and eating.

“People need to be more aware and less ignorant of conditions like Parkinson’s.  Since being made redundant after my Parkinson’s diagnosis, I’ve thrown myself into volunteering and I’m a volunteer educator.  I love to visit various businesses and organisations to explain to them what Parkinson’s is. By raising awareness, it will hopefully stop people with Parkinson’s experiencing similar situations to those I’ve been in.”

Local Support

There is a huge amount of support for people affected by Parkinson’s in the West Midlands, from Parkinson’s local advisers and our helpline, to self-management groups, support groups, Parkinson’s nurses and exercise classes.  We even have an online forum for the tech savvy people out there!

You are not alone, and we are here to make sure people have whatever they need to take back control – from information to inspiration.

Visit our website for more information on how we can help or telephone our free helpline on 0808 800 0303.

Please get in touch with Gayle Kelly, Regional Fundraiser at for more details about local corporate fundraising or taking part in the Birmingham Abseil.