About Us

About Action on Pain

Action on Pain is a national charity established in 1998 by Ian Semmons, our Chairman, as a result of his own frustration that it took so long to get treatment for his pain. That frustration was heightened by the fact that when he eventually discovered Pain Clinics some three years after his injuries the treatment he received was superb. During that journey he met many others in a similar position so knowing that complaining to the NHS was a pointless exercise he was determined to do something positive to help others who were faced with a similar challenge.

Our Trustees

*  Anne Wrightson

* Judith Semmons         * Ian Semmons

Our Patron is Andrew Hughes, Norwich City Loan Manager

“As a retired professional footballer I have experienced acute pain from time to time when on the end of injuries, and therefore have some small idea of what people affected by chronic pain have to put up with. I would encourage anyone suffering at present to contact Action on Pain – they are there to help, and who knows, they may be able to give you advice that leads to your pain easing. Even if you do not suffer at the moment give them a look and give generously to their fundraising because who knows what the future may hold!”

Patron of Action on Pain

Andrew Hughes Professional Footballer, Norwich City Loan Manager


Action on pain mobile unit distributing information about managing chronic pain

Our Mobile Information Unit provides support and advice for people affected by chronic pain.

In 2018 it visited North and South Wales as well as Scotland. In addition it attended several locations in East Anglia. More of the same happened during the following year with visits to county shows, supermarkets, healthcare locations. This is believed to be the only Mobile Information Unit in the world providing a service for people affected by chronic pain. It has proved to be a very popular initiative enabling Action on Pain to increase its profile by meeting more people affected by chronic pain. In addition PainLine receives several calls each week from people who having seen the unit “in transit” take our telephone number to call later.

Such is its popularity the unit was stopped by traffic police on the A1 whilst heading North. Our volunteer driver fearing the worst was both relieved and amused to be asked by one of the officers if they could give him some information on treatment for chronic pain. Needless to say we were able to oblige!

By 2019 the Mobile Information Unit had been used no less than 198 times   covering some 24000 miles. As always we assess the impact of the unit and the feedback we get from our visitors. What we have learned enabled us to upgrade the vehicle to make it more user-friendly, upgrade the resources that it carries, broaden the geographical split of the venues we have attended. It is reassuring that the unit continued to provide an ever-growing service over the years which sadly came to a grinding halt in 2020 with the COVID19 pandemic.

One interesting development was an enquiry from a healthcare professional team providing pain management in Australia who are looking to provide an “outreach service in the outback”. Having seen the Mobile Information Unit on our website they were looking at the possibility of replicating the unit in Australia. Action on Pain were able to give them some good advice and ideas. Strangely there has been no shortage of volunteers willing to go out to help them set the project up!

We continued the work of the unit visiting various locations around the U.K. which raised the profile of chronic pain in general as well as being able to help people with their individual needs. What did become clear is that access to chronic pain services within the NHS is becoming more fragmented with serious concerns relating to the new Commissioning Groups when they were set up in 2013. The overall view indicates that people believe pain management services will further suffer becoming even more fragmented.

In 2013/14 more of the same including one event where one of our volunteers baked a whole range of scrummy flapjacks which we sold on the stand. Tom’s Tasty Treats sold out all too quickly much to our delight. Always a popular attraction the mobile information unit has provide a very valuable asset as it enters its 7th year in operation. 2015 saw a range of venues including a motor show and a country fair. If you see us on the road give us a toot!

Life on the road in 2015 provided a number of opportunities for our volunteers to provide support and advice to people affected by chronic pain. what became clear on our travels is that it is getting more difficult to get referred to a pain clinic and that the services when available are becoming rationed and fragmented with particular problems in Scotland and Wales. The Care Commissioning Groups(CCG) all have their own interpretation of how pain services should be available and delivered which has led to a really confused arena. In our home county of Norfolk there are FIVE CCGs each doing their own thing and we give no prizes for those who suffer!

In 2016 we were out again pounding the tarmac hoping for a drier summer as we explore new venues. We were waiting to see if we are granted funding to mount an innovative campaign that has the potential to make a real impact in the pain world. Our Mobile Information Unit will be at the forefront of this campaign as well as visiting its usual haunts. As always if you see us come and have a chat-there is a good chance the kettle will be on and if you are really luck a biscuit or two!

In 2017 we were out and about with the Mobile Information Unit as well as with our brand new Exhibition Display stand which saw its debut at Health&Wellbeing exhibition at the NEC closely followed by Primary Care also at the NEC both of which were very successful for Action on Pain. We then spoke at the Anglian Pain Society Conference being very well received with a hard hitting presentation on the current state and future prospects for pain services across the NHS. We had two events booked in August, one in London and the other here in Norfolk at the glorious Blickling Hall. Each of these events demonstrates our commitment to reaching out to as many people affected by chronic pain which you cannot effectively do whilst just”flying a desk”

Action on pain mobile unit


Action on Pain has developed a reputation for its strong stance on lobbying/campaigning on behalf of those people affected by chronic pain. The fact that the level of service provision within the NHS for pain in no way matches the need leaving many people totally stranded by their pain. In a modern society like the UK it does seem unfair that people are denied access to services that could help them. Equally unfair is that pure logic suggests that by helping people at an early stage the future demand on both the healthcare and benefits system would be far less. So where is the evidence we hear the politicians and healthcare commissioners shout. Well just perhaps that evidence is called common sense which in this target-driven society is now so often neglected.

Therefore Action on Pain can be found lobbying national and local politicians by asking searching questions about the provision of pain services within their constituency. We can be found talking to the media, providing case studies whilst generally raising the profile of pain. We can be found talking to healthcare commissioners about their inability to grasp the reality of what their failure to provide effective pain services means. We would deeply value your help in helping us to continue to put pain services in a key position when it comes to NHS service provision and funding. We would welcome your help in persuading government to support charities such as Action on Pain to enable them to continue and develop the work we do. Currently the government gives Action on Pain nothing as provision of pain services is not a government target. A national disgrace when you consider that 1 in 8 of the UK population have chronic pain-yes 1 in 8!

We would love to hear your stories on your treatment by the NHS for your pain – please email us !


Over the past  twenty three years Action on Pain has grown to a national organisation developing a good reputation for the quality of the support and advice that it provides. Currently run entirely by volunteers AOP operates from a small office in Norfolk from where we reach out to not only the UK but to other parts of the world. AOP is involved in a number of key projects which have the potential to help people affected by chronic pain wherever they live. Always looking for new opportunities to help people with pain 2007 saw the introduction of our Mobile Information Unit which  played a pivotal role in enabling us to reach out to far more people whilst also raising the overall profile of pain. We are told that this unit is the only one of its type across the world that specialises entirely on pain related matters.

Some interesting facts:

  • Since 1998 AOP has given out  over 1 MILLION booklets
  • Answered or made over 180000 calls on PainLine
  • Received and answered over 19000 emails
  • Covered over 24000 miles with the Mobile Information Unit
  • Spoken or exhibited at 179 conferences and similar events