A MALTON charity has launched a global awareness campaign at the House of Lords.

The Encephalitis Society started the countdown to the sixth annual World Encephalitis Day in London on Tuesday.

Staff and supporters were hosted by Baroness McIntosh of Pickering in her role as vice-president of the charity, which helps people affected by the condition, an inflammation of the brain.

The event also welcomed several members of the House of Lords, as well as Kevin Hollinrake, the MP for Thirsk and Malton.

Dr Ava Easton, chief executive of the Encephalitis Society, said: “We are grateful to Baroness McIntosh for arranging our visit to the House of Lords and what we hope will be the start of another successful World Encephalitis Day campaign.

“Statistics reveal that 78 per cent of people do not know what encephalitis is – this is despite the condition affecting 500,000 people each year, irrespective of their age, gender or country. This is why we put so much effort into campaigns such as World Encephalitis Day, which hold the key to our long-term ambitions of making the general public aware of a condition which affects more people than bacterial meningitis and motor neurone disease.”

This year’s campaign will see the charity, which is based in Castlegate, Malton, invite people to download its smartphone app and take part in a virtual journey to key locations relevant to the condition.

Supporters are also being encouraged to wear something red on World Encephalitis Day on February 22 and share their photos on social media, telling their friends and followers about the condition.

Dr Easton added: “We are very proud of what we have achieved with World Encephalitis Day over the past several years. The Encephalitis Society reaches tens of millions of people through our campaign each year and, slowly but surely, we are confident we will live in a world where the vast majority of the public are aware of encephalitis.”

For more information, visit worldencephalitisday.org