A message from Dr Ava Easton, the Chief Executive of the Encephalitis Society 

Dear Friend

Right now, it is an extraordinary time, unprecedented in my lifetime. Cities are at a standstill, plans curtailed, people are staying in their homes and businesses are sending staff home. Whatever occurs over the next few months, encephalitis will still happen to people and their worlds will collapse even further, with feelings of isolation increased beyond what they normally experience and support networks decreased beyond all recognition. I cannot imagine how hard this will be, on top of all the anxiety and uncertainty they face when this devastating condition enters lives, often when least expected - you may well understand this feeling completely, though.

Today, 1440 people will be diagnosed with encephalitis. For those people, no matter where in the world they live, we will be there for them. Our expert team will still calm anxieties; continue to talk families through the bewildering bedside vigils of their loved ones; our information and resources will try to make sure people know what their journey ahead looks like; and our researchers will be focussing on accelerating our understanding of encephalitis.

Because we know that some of our encephalitis community are particularly vulnerable and that viruses like COVID-19 can cause encephalitis¹ , we are anticipating unprecedented demand on our services over the next six months. But we may struggle to meet that rise in demand without you, our global family of members and supporters. I have taken personal steps to pay it forward to people who supply services to me. For example, continuing to pay my dogwalker despite all my travel plans being cancelled, because I know her business will not weather the storm without support like that. I ask you to pay it forward so that people affected by encephalitis can continue to access our expert support and advice. I need you to help us urgently.

Many of our planned events have been postponed. Our supporters cannot fundraise in the way they hoped. I have had to make many internal changes including filming podcasts with our experts on encephalitis and COVID-19 (available online from 20/3/20) and equipping and resourcing all my staff team to work from home with immediate effect.

I do not want the progress we have made on research to halt, or our services to crumble under demand. I am confident we have taken all the right steps to ensure this does not happen, but I need you to help us. There is one urgent action you can take today to make a difference. Please make a donation or call one of the members of the team on +44(0)1653 692583, to contribute to our future. If you are able to, please set up a regular gift meaning the charity can really plan our survival over the coming months.

We will get through this together - I know our supporters are amazing people and I thank you for being there for each other.

Take care of each other and stay safe.

Dr Ava Easton

Chief Executive - Encephalitis Society

¹ Previous Coronavirus have caused encephalitis in some patients and COVID-19 has recently been detected in the central nervous system of a patient in China http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-03/05/c_138846529.htm