FSNDA was established in 1995 by a group of three people who recognised that there was no support for people with fibromyalgia and information was very difficult to obtain. The group, then known as Bangor Fibromyalgia Friends, aims were to raise awareness of what was then a little known condition, and to offer a helping hand to fellow sufferers. Over the next 4 years under the management of a dedicated committee monthly meeting, coffee dates, numerous social activities and fundraising events were established. The group therefore became better known in the community and the membership steadily increased.
In January 1999 the group became officially recognised and achieved charitable status with its own charity number and logo, the group was now known as Fibromyalgia Support North Down. In February 2001 we agreed to amend our constitution to allow for a president to be appointed. Lady Sylvia Hermon had always shown a great deal of interest in the group and in June 2001 accepted our invitation to become group president.
In 2006 we formed a relationship with North Down Community Network who offered invaluable advice and support as well as a weekly home for the groups activities. Members of the committee began meeting at the network every Friday to deal with administration and to man the new helpline. The network also helped the group to set up an email address, email@example.com , and access funds from VSB (now Volunteer Now) to help with running costs amd volunteer costs. We also identified the need to meet with other groups and build up our contacts. We soon recognised that we were networking and drawing members from the Ards area as well as North Down so in November 2006 we celebrated becoming Fibromyalgia Support North Down & Ards (FSNDA).
From 1999 onwards the group had supported members through a varied programme of physical activities which included Tai Chi, Boccia and Hydrotherapy. In September 2006 FSNDA held its first Table Quiz which soon became a regular annual event, important both for fundraising, but also as a night out when the friends and families of our members can get together and have fun. Summer outings had also been developing over the years, from bus trips to members meeting up and travelling in their cars to places of interest and have lunch together.
The FSNDA Committee always are looking at ways to improve the service to members and improve the systems they have in place. To keep members informed a Quarterly Newsletter was published which has been revamped over the years and late 2007 new leaflets on Diet and Healthy eating, Exercise and Carers were introduced.
September 2008 an Art & Craft group was formed as a number of members had expressed an interest. It soon became very popular, indeed becoming the most important day of the week for participants. The Art & Craft group has continued to be a great success among members, untapped talents discovered, firm friendships formed and most importantly through this extremely therapeutic activity members support each other with mutual respect and understanding.
Late 2009 saw our quarterly newsletter produced in colour. The improved quality of our newsletter thanks to funding from North Down Policing Partnership drew praise from many members. This greatly encouraged the committee to look at developing our communication through Information Technology.
2010 was a big year for the group, not only was it our 15th anniversary but it also saw us hold our first ever conference which proved to be a great success with participants saying they found the day informative, friendly, positive and hopeful which is exactly what we hoped people would take away from the day.
2015 was yet another big year which saw many changes for the group. At the beginning of the year the group launched a Facebook page allowing the group to expand it's support to a much wider audience. The launch of this saw the steady expansion of the exclusive Closed Group & an increase in membership to the main group & its activities in Bangor. The page launched under a new name for the group, that being Fibromyalgia Awareness Bangor, Ards & North Down, leading the way for a formal change of name for the group at AGM the following September.
This year (2017) the group is bidding a sad farewell to our President Lady Sylvia Hermon who has had to resign her position due to family commitments. Replacing Sylvia from September is Alex Easton who was one of the founding members of the group 23 years ago.
Fibromyalgia Awareness Bangor, Ards & North Down pride ourselves on being a proactive group, living with the condition of fibromyalgia but not prepared to have our lives destroyed by it. We promise to continue to deliver a programme designed to encourage and support our members, of whatever age and interests