Sonya Chowdhury is the Chief Executive of UK Charity Action for M.E., working with children, families and adults affected by the neurological condition M.E.; a role served since September 2012.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.) affects 250,000 people in the U.K., significantly impacting lives and not just their health. Unfortunately, a lack of understanding and awareness means men, women, and children experience the same disbelief. Some even experience discrimination from friends, family, health and social professionals, teachers and employers.
Sonya took over as Chief Executive when there was great despair in the community from patients of all ages and their parents desperate for support following years of stigma and disbelief. On first impression, Sonya saw it her role to make Action for M.E. a charity that could drive real change. Fast forward to the review of existing activities and a reset containing bold and ambitious plans of change. A strategy focused on increasing transparency and clarity, seeking a collaborative working culture with stakeholders at every level.
Sonya stands by the statement she made at her appointment:”People with M.E. are at the heart of everything we do. Our purpose is to end the ignorance, injustice and neglect experienced by people with M.E. We do this by meeting needs now while securing change for the future. Everything we do is in service of achieving three goals, which we call our strategic touchstones, to tackle these challenges: IMPROVE the lives of people with M.E., INSPIRE action at all levels, and INVEST in change.”
In making bold decisions at the appointment, Sonya was able to drive the charity forward in support and ground-breaking biomedical research to not just offer patients with M.E. support but most recently support for those living with Long Covid. It is reported that over 200million are living with the effects of Coronavirus mirroring symptoms, M.E. patients have described for years. The parallels are highlighted through the charity reporting a 30% increase in enquiries for information and often urgent support after Long Covid and M.E. patients were also unable to access vital services.
Sonya was named in the top 100 most influential women in the West, 2018 and has devoted her career to improving the lives of children and adults’ lives while working to secure change for the future. Sonya started her career in statutory social work. Sonya worked in senior management roles for leading children’s charity Barnardo’s. She was Head of Business Support two days a week and National Lead for the Family Strategic Partnership for the remaining three. In addition, Sonya co-pioneered the ‘Innovating Futures’ programme, which used a newly-created business generation model to help advance the practice of voluntary sector leaders. Sonya also chairs the Management and PPI Groups for DecodeME, the world’s most extensive M.E. /CFS DNA study launched in June 2020.
You can follow Sonya on social media: https://twitter.com/SonyaChowdhury
Visit Action for ME today: https://www.actionforme.org.uk
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