Although CCI Support only came into being in May 2018, the organisation it was born out of is 40 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 The first dedicated ME/CFS field officer, Margaret Tomlinson, was employed. In December 2003, Tina Richards was employed as field officer. The main focus of her work was visiting new and existing members; providing information on ME/CFS; helping to validate members’ experience of their illness; facilitating support meetings and coffee mornings, and generally fostering a sense of connection with each other and our organisation so people no longer felt isolated. Tina did this as sole Western BOP field officer for over 10 years, and often had the feeling that there was such a need that what was being provided 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, we found a need to expand our services to cater to a growing number of young members, and Kira Follas was appointed Youth Field Officer. Out of their discussions around providing a more effective vehicle to help empower people to drive their own wellness journey, Kira and Tina created the Towards Wellness (TW) programme. TW was designed 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. It was found that, through the TW programme, people who had been ill for several years were, 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.
Towards Wellness was endorsed by Dr Ros Vallings, and in 2016 the programme won a local Adult Learning Innovative Provider Award. Enquiries about TW were received from around the country and a decision was made to explore ways to make an online version available throughout NZ.
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 the organisation was re-branding as Complex Chronic Illness Support (CCIS) 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 was a better reflection of the clientele we work with.
Another development was the taking over of 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. New staff appointed. Miranda Whitwell as C.E.O. and Charlotte Kelp as the new Field Officer for Tauranga.
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 has brought us to a point that we can now offer most services online.
2021 We finalised the Transfer of services from MS Waikato to CCIS Waikato with an opening in Hamilton on 13th May.
- 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.
- Tina Richards – Field Officer 2003 – 2019, and the background information for this history (up to 2019) is kindly provided by Tina.
- 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, John Kelliher
If you’d like to learn more about any of our services, or get involved, we’d love to hear from you.