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WORLD RED CROSS DAY – 8th May – The first Red Cross & Red Crescent Day was held in 1948. This event is supported by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement; a humanitarian movement that aims to protect people’s lives and health, alleviate or prevent suffering and ensure respect is given to all.

Prior to this observance and following the end of the First World War, there had been an initiative known as the ‘Red Cross Truce’. Initially, this was a three-day truce in former Czechoslovakia which took place during Easter time.

The work of the Red Cross also includes first aid, emergency response, health, and social care, preparing for disasters, refugee services and helping people find missing families. During times of war, the Red Cross helps to protect people in armed conflict.

Increased urbanization has made the work of the Red Cross more complex. A greater number of people who now live in urban areas face exposure to hazards, and insecurity and have poor access to services such as food, health care and water.

When a disaster such as a tsunami or an earthquake strikes densely populated urban areas, the consequences can be immense. The urbanization theme helps people recognize the important work the Red Cross is doing in these areas and why people should support this organization.

Whether schools are open or closed, World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is the perfect opportunity for parents and teachers to talk to their children about the importance of the Red Cross and Red Crescent all over the world.

The 2023 theme is to highlight the universal, human, and diverse aspects of our Movement by focussing on our volunteers and their involvement within our communities.

INTERNATIONAL ME AWARENESS DAY – 12th May – International ME/CFS Day raises awareness about ME/CFS, a widespread and debilitating condition. This event promotes a greater understanding of ME/CFS and the impact it can have on a person’s life.

International ME/CFS Day is set to fall on the birth date of the pioneering nurse, Florence Nightingale (for information about Miss Nightingale view the National Nurses Week listing. This event also wraps around this birth date).

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), is a chronic, debilitating condition which brings a wide range of symptoms that can vary in type and intensity.

The idea originated with Thomas Michael Hennessy, Jr., the founder of Repeal Existing Stereotypes about Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (no longer active). Tom Hennessy was based in the USA but understood that it needed to be an international event; he designated May 12 as the International Awareness Day for the spectrum of illnesses he called Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (CIND).

May 12 was chosen as it coincided with the birth date of Florence Nightingale, the celebrated English social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale became chronically ill in her mid-thirties after returning from the Crimean War; the M.E.-like illness often left her bedridden during the last 50 years of her life. You will find a more detailed account in A Short History of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

Tom Hennessy included Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (also known as chronic fatigue syndrome and Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome)FibromyalgiaGulf War Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity under the CIND umbrella. These illnesses, characterised by cognitive problems, chronic muscle and joint pain, extremely poor stamina, and numerous other symptoms, afflict people around the world in alarming numbers.

May 12 efforts have been low-key and undertaken by individuals or individual organisations. Due to the mandates of these organisations, the awareness efforts have, for the most part, focused on only one of the illnesses. From the beginning of 1993 various M.E. organisations were behind the idea, and it was subsequently highlighted at the First World Congress on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Related Disorders in 1995. This was instrumental in the campaign being adopted internationally for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. The universal symbol of the blue ribbon is worn to spread awareness and support sufferers.

The World ME Alliance, a collaborative of organisations from across the globe, is launching World ME Day on 12th May this year. This new initiative aims to bring together organisations and unify efforts to raise awareness and campaign together on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

ACTION ON STROKE MONTH – 1st – 31st May – Throughout May the campaign raised awareness of the damaging effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on stroke research. In previous years, Stroke Awareness Month has been marked with the Make May Purple campaign.

The Stroke Association is here to support people to rebuild their lives after a stroke. They believe everyone deserves to live the best life they can after a stroke. They provide specialist support, fund critical research and campaign to make sure people affected by stroke get the absolute best care and support to rebuild their lives. Rebuilding lives after a stroke is a team effort. It takes the determination of stroke survivors and carers, the generosity of supporters and the dedication of the healthcare and research communities to get there. For more information, click here.

WORLD FIBROMYALGIA AWARENESS DAY – 12th May – Millions of people worldwide will be holding events and participating in other ways to help raise awareness for this invisible and insidious disease during the month of May.

WORLD FIBROMYALGIA AWARENESS MONTH – May – Fibromyalgia Awareness Month for May 1st-30th – May is the month we all come together to educate and raise awareness about Fibromyalgia with friends and family, at work, and in our neighbourhoods. Take part to share the facts and make a difference for all those impacted by Fibromyalgia, #SupportFibro. Fibromyalgia Awareness Day is May 12th and World Lupus Day is May 10th. Get ready to turn the month of May purple!

Help to promote World Fibromyalgia Awareness Day on 12th May 2022 in any way you can. Some Fibro groups have created unique ways to help promote awareness. Throughout the month of May of each year, people worldwide spread awareness of fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions through live events, online activities, and personal efforts.

NATIONAL OSTEOPOROSIS MONTH – 1ST – 31st – Each May, the Bone Health & Osteoporosis Foundation (BHOF) works to generate awareness and inspire behavioural change regarding the critical importance of good bone health and osteoporosis prevention. Osteoporosis is common. One in two women and up to one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. The disease, which is not a normal part of ageing, is serious causing broken bones, pain, suffering and life-altering loss of mobility — yet it is treatable and even preventable.

During May and all year long, they want everyone to make a commitment to be bone strong! Here are some of the many ways that you can get involved: Share your story: Raise awareness about osteoporosis by telling others about your experiences. Sharing your journey will help others understand the impact of this disease and gain an understanding of what it’s like for someone who has it. Visit our blog, Bone Talk, to get inspiration from our Voices of Osteoporosis stories. If you’d like to be featured, click here.

Join the online community: BHOF’s Osteoporosis Online Support Community, hosted by Inspire, brings people with, and affected by osteoporosis together online to share experiences and provide support for one another. Now with more than 68,000 members, this community is a reliable source of support and a channel for learning more about living with the disease. Learn more and join today!

Post on social media: Spread the word among your network by using this toolkit complete with graphics and suggested posts. We’ve made it easy for you to raise awareness and get others involved in taking steps to #BeBoneStrong!

Start a fundraiser: Visit the BHOF fundraising page to learn more and register with Crowdrise. You can then personalize your fundraiser with stories, photos, and videos. It only takes a few minutes. Then invite your friends, family, and network to support your fundraiser. You can even donate to yourself to get the ball rolling.

Contribute: Give during the month of May to help improve patient care and support for those who have already broken bones due to osteoporosis and to protect future generations from this debilitating disease. Donate today!

DEAF AWARENESS WEEK – 1st – 7th May – Deaf Awareness Week is an annual event. It last took place from 3 to 9 May 2021. The focus of the week was to raise awareness of deafness and hearing loss. It aimed to celebrate exceptional individuals and showcase what you can do to champion inclusivity and be more deaf-friendly.

There was so much that happened that week, including many online events:

  • the ‘terrible twos’ (and ones and threes!) online coffee mornings
  • Early Education online sessions
  • Overcoming Sleep Issues for Deaf Children with a resident sleep specialist, Nicola Corazzo
  • and many, many more.

You can still get involved and take part in one of the National Deaf Children’s Society fundraising events 

to help and support deaf children, young people, and their families!

WORLD LUPUS DAY – 10th May – This year for World Lupus Day they want to Make Lupus Visible using the power of social media to show the world the many faces of lupus and the impact of this debilitating autoimmune disease.

The World Lupus Day annual observance brings together lupus organizations and people impacted by the disease from around the world to urge the public to understand lupus and spread awareness.

World Lupus Day. Org invites everyone around the world to participate in this year’s social media effort on World Lupus Day because it’s only by working together that will elevate lupus as an international health priority so it gets the attention and resources it deserves.

They are currently finalizing lupus awareness tools, shareable images and sample messaging you can use to help Make Lupus Visible on World Lupus Day and will share all of this with you soon.

ARTHRITIS CARE AWARENESS WEEK – 14th – 21st May – Arthritis Care Awareness Week is a UK based event that raises awareness about arthritis, gathers support for people with this condition, and highlights the work of Arthritis Care, a charity that supports this event. Arthritis is a condition marked by painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. There are many types of arthritis that can affect a person in different ways.

This event helps to educate the public about how arthritis can affect a person’s life. Arthritis can be painful and for many, it can stop them from living the life they want.

For some years, a theme is set which provides a focus for the week. For example, in 2007 the theme had been, ‘Much Done, Much Still To Do‘ which reflects past achievements of Arthritis Care and the work that still needs to be done.

One focus of this event is to inform people with arthritis about how to live with their condition. The week is also a time to promote Arthritis Care’s support network.

The Arthritis Care Website and UK freephone hotline, 0808 800 4050 is a good place to start for those who require more information about arthritis and the support available to them.


celebrated on 12th May every year, which is also the anniversary of the birth of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale. International Nurses Day has been celebrated by the ICN since 1965. However, it wasn’t until 1974 when 12th May was chosen to celebrate this day to coincide with the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. 

In 2023, the theme of International Nurses Day has been set by the ICN as ‘Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Invest in Nursing and respect rights to secure global health.’ You can learn more about International Nurses Day 2023 and other ICN events by visiting their website here.

MENTAL HEALTH WEEK – 15th – 21st – The week will explore the experience of loneliness, its effect on our mental health and how we can all play a part in reducing loneliness in our communities with the theme of ‘anxiety’.

Anxiety is a normal emotion in us all, but sometimes it can get out of control and become a mental health problem.

Lots of things can lead to feelings of anxiety, including exam pressures, relationships, starting a new job (or losing one) or other big life events. We can also get anxious when it comes to things to do with money and not being able to meet our basic needs, like heating our home or buying food.

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems we can face. In a recent mental health survey we carried out around stress, anxiety and hopelessness over personal finances, a quarter of adults said they felt so anxious that it stopped them from doing the things they want to do some or all of the time. Six in ten adults feel this way, at least some of the time. On a positive note, anxiety can be made easier to manage.

Focusing on anxiety for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week will increase people’s awareness and understanding of anxiety by providing information on the things that can help prevent it from becoming a problem. At the same time, we will keep up the pressure to demand change – making sure that improving mental health is a key priority for the government and society as a whole.

WORLD MS AWARENESS DAY – 30th May – World MS Day is the MS movement’s annual campaign to raise awareness of the condition, and to support and connect the 2.8 million people living with it worldwide. It is a day to celebrate global solidarity and hope for the future.

In 2009, MSIF and our members initiated the first World MS Day. Together we have reached hundreds of thousands of people around the world, with a campaign focusing on a different theme each year.

World MS Day is officially marked on 30 May. Events and campaigns take place throughout the month of May. It brings the global MS community together to share stories, raise awareness and campaign with and for everyone affected by multiple sclerosis.

2020-2023 – #MSConnections

The theme for 2020-2023 World MS Day campaign is connections. The MS Connections campaign is all about building community connection, self-connection and connections to quality care. The campaign tagline is ‘I Connect, We Connect’ and the campaign hashtag is #MSConnections.

This campaign, developed in collaboration with members of the global MSIF movement, will challenge social barriers that leave people affected by MS feeling lonely and socially isolated. It is an opportunity to advocate for better services, celebrate support networks and champion self-care.

Source: IRFC What Health Stroke UK Fibro Awareness Bone Health NDCS World Lupus Day What Health Versus Arthritis Twinkl Mental Health MSIF


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