Muscular Dystrophy UK places 60 percent of staff on furlough

Muscular Dystrophy UK has placed 60 percent of its employees on the Government’s Job Retention scheme to weather the financial pressures caused by COVID-19.

The charity has had to cancel or postpone a number of events that generate a substantial amount of income, including its own Oxford Town and Gown 10k event, which was due to take place the week after London Marathon. It estimates it could lose £2.8m as a result of all cancellations.

Employees who are not being furloughed have agreed to a 20 percent pay cut and reduction in hours from 13 April for an initial period of three months.

Muscular Dystrophy UK leads the fight against 60 rare and very rare muscle-wasting conditions that affect more than 70,000 people in the UK. The charity supports individuals and their families, campaigns for access to treatments and healthcare, and funds and supports research.

But the financial challenges it is facing threatens its future and is already impacting on the services it is able to deliver. This comes at a time when the charity is needed the most, with many of the 70,000 people with a muscle-wasting condition at high risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus.

March was one of the busiest months of the year for the charity’s helpline, with 38 percent of calls related to the virus. More people than usual also visited the website – and more than a fifth of total website views were on the charity’s coronavirus guidance.

Catherine Woodhead, Chief Executive at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:

Asking our staff to do this hasn’t been an easy decision. But we’re worried about what the future holds for us. Without financial help – whether that’s from the Government or through other means – we will struggle to survive.


We need to be here for the 70,000 people who are scared right now, living in isolation with a muscle-wasting condition. We’re calling on the Government to urgently put in place a financial package to support charities like ours, who are needed now more than ever.

Muscular Dystrophy UK’s helpline will continue to operate despite the reduction in staff numbers and it will continue leading communication between charities and neuromuscular specialist clinicians to ensure there is accurate clinical information about COVID-19 for people affected by a muscle-wasting condition.

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Notes to editors

About muscle-wasting conditions

  • More than 70,000 children and adults in the UK have a muscle-wasting condition.
  • Muscle-wasting conditions may be inherited or strike out of the blue. These conditions cause muscles to weaken and waste over time, leading to increasingly severe disability. Some affect the heart and muscles vital for breathing, cutting lives short.

Muscular Dystrophy UK

  • Muscular Dystrophy UK is the charity for 70,000 children and adults living with muscle-wasting conditions. We provide vital information, advice and support to help people live as independently as possible. We accelerate progress in research and drive the campaign for access to emerging treatments.
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