A FORMER criminology student will be taking a petition to parliament in the hope a long term illness he suffers from will be recognised.

Billy Mansell, 23, of Westcliff Avenue, Westcliff, was diagnosed with fibromyalgia – also known as FMS – in May 2016.

The condition causes pain all over the body and chronic fatigue as well as a variety of other symptoms.

Billy began studying for a degree in Criminology and Forensic Investigation in 2014 but unfortunately had to give up due to his health deteriorating from the condition.

After two years of taking 27 tablets a day, Billy saw little improvement. He gradually stopped the medication after finding that light exercise proved to be more effective.

He said: “In some respects I have been lucky to even get a diagnosis as many sufferers don’t.

“I gave up everything – my career in science and my love of sports. I was forced to quit university as my health massively set me back.

“I have had to incorporate a new routine and lifestyle and have had little support along the way, the same as a lot of people like myself, which is why I want to support FMS in the UK because they need it.

“There is a real lack of knowledge and support available for people that suffer with the condition which is why we want to take our petition to parliament and hopefully gain support from MPs and get them to look further into supporting people with fibromalygia and widen the amount of research that goes into it. We want to raise awareness.”

Billy and a group of other campaigners, including Adrienne Lakin, 25, will set off for parliament at the end of January and already have over 70,000 signatures.

Billy has twice had his application for Personal Independence Payments rejected by the Department for Work and Pensions.

He is currently appealing the decision.

Billy, who has a a five-month-old son, Noah, with his fiancee Ellie is only able to work four hours a day in retail.

He added: “My partner has been my carer. I can’t imagine what it is like for other people who don’t have the family support that I have. So many people cannot work at all and get rejected for PIP payments.

Billy’s goal is to set up his own fibromaylgia charity and hold support groups in Southend with a tailored, and categorised support system. Visit change.org/p/uk-parliament-make-fibromyalgia-a-disability