Council buildings across Antrim and Newtownabbey will be lit up blue today to mark International Rare Disease Day.
Antrim Civic Centre, Ballyclare Town Hall and Mossley Mill will be lit up in support of the campaign.
Rare conditions are chronic, debilitating and life-threatening conditions; in Northern Ireland it is estimated that over 100,000 people are affected by such conditions.
That is a population the size of Londonderry, and a community larger than that affected by AIDS and cancer combined.
Northern Ireland Rare Disease Partnership (NIRDP) is a not for profit organisation and registered Northern Ireland charity working to bring about change for those with rare or difficult to diagnose conditions.
This year the organisation is running its first Northern Ireland-wide campaign, ‘RariTea’, to help raise awareness of rare conditions and the impact these have on all those affected.
This year’s RariTea campaign is running from February 21 to March 7, coinciding with International Rare Disease Day on February 28.
Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Cllr Paul Michael said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to get involved in helping create real change for those affected by rare conditions across Northern Ireland.
“I was shocked to discover that as many as one in every 17 people in Northern Ireland will be affected by rare conditions at some stage in their life. Rare conditions are not as rare as we might think.”
Rhoda Walker, Chair of the Partnership, added: “We are so grateful to the council for getting involved in our campaign and for helping us to raise awareness right across Northern Ireland.
“Even the smallest of efforts can go a long way towards helping us raise awareness of our charity and the work that we do, and will aid us in reaching more families, carers and patients across the region who need our support.”
There are many ways to get involved and by simply posting your images and comments of support via social media, tagging on @NI_RDP and using the hashtag #RariTea you can help increase the campaign’s reach.
If groups, individuals or businesses would like to make a donation this can be arranged via www.nirdp.org.uk, or by contacting email@example.com for more details.
All donations will go directly towards funding for a full-time coordinator who will help families and patients affected by rare conditions access the help and support that they need.
The charity motto is “Stronger Together”, so get involved in this year’s ‘RariTea’ and make a difference for all those living with rare conditions across Northern Ireland.
To find out more contact the NIRDP on firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook: @NIRDP_News, Twitter: @ni_rdp or www.nirdp.org.uk