Although CCI Support only came into being in May 2018, the organisation it was born out of is nearly 39 years old! Bay of Plenty ME Support Group was formed in August 1981, just 1 year after ANZMES was formed. That makes both groups among the longest-serving support organisations in the world for people affected by ME/CFS!
1980 ANZMES (Associated NZ Myalgic Encephalopathy Society) formed. Local couple, Richard and Betty Walters were on the steering committee.
1981 Richard and Betty Walters gain permission from ANZMES to form a Bay of Plenty support group for ME sufferers. First meeting held in August 1981.
Nov 1981 Began a partnership with MS (BoP) Society so that ME members could have access to the MS field officer.
1986 ME/CFS Support (BoP) became an Incorporated Society with its own legal identity, but continued to work with MS (BoP)
2001 ME and MS organisations separated
2003 First dedicated ME/CFS field officer (Margaret Tomlinson) employed. The main focus of my work was visiting new and existing members; providing information on ME/CFS; helping to validate members’ experience of ME; facilitating support meetings and coffee mornings, and generally fostering a sense of connection with each other and our organisation so people no longer felt so isolated. Tina did this as sole Western Bay field officer for over 10 years, and often had the feeling that there was such a need that what we were providing felt like the proverbial ‘drop in the ocean’. She was noticing that members often struggled to gain momentum in their healing journey.
2008 ME/CFS Support (BoP) Inc became a Registered Charity (No. CC20874)
2015 Towards Wellness Programme: Around 2015, a need to expand our services to cater to a growing number of young members was found, and Kira Follas was appointed Youth Field Officer. Out of our discussions around providing a more effective vehicle to help empower people to drive their own wellness journey, the Towards Wellness (TW) programme was born. We designed TW as a comprehensive, holistic educational package for those with ME/CFS/FM and related conditions. This is especially important for those who are newly diagnosed so they get the right information as soon as possible to maximise their chances for improvement. But we’re also finding that people who have been ill for several years are, for the first time, ‘joining the dots’ and making sense of what had previously seemed like disparate pieces of the puzzle, and seeing how they all fit together. It has been endorsed by Dr Vallings, and in 2016 it won a local Adult Learning Innovative Provider Award.
We are receiving enquiries about it from around the country, so our next step is to explore ways to make an online version of the programme available throughout NZ.
2018 The logical next step for us, as people with ME/CFS often experience one or more overlapping or related conditions (either diagnosed or undiagnosed) in addition to ME/CFS and FM. So, the new name better reflects the clientele we work with. Another development for us has been taking over field officer services for the Rotorua area when the Rotorua ME/CFS Charitable Trust ceased operating.
2019 We moved into a new premises at 53 Fraser st.
2020 Covid-19 invaded New Zealand and saw us working in a new way. For the entire lockdown all staff are currently working from home and services are going online. This is an area that has been discussed for a long time, watch this space for new developments.
- Richard and Betty Walters – for their tireless work for several years after the formation of ME/CFS Support (BoP), including personal financial input, to get the organisation established. Their son, Brian Walters, was also heavily involved during the early years.
- John Kelliher – Secretary/Manager from 2003 – 2013. John’s skills and dedication helped develop the group further.
- Life Members – Joan August, Maurice Dryden, Trevor Archer, Richard and Betty Walters, Brian Walters
If you’d like to learn more about any of our services, or get involved, we’d love to hear from you.