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My local group completely changed my life

Volunteer Vicki talks about how volunteering for us helps with her wellbeing.

Meeting the volunteers at my local MS Society group completely changed my life. After my MS diagnosis, I hardly left the house and it felt like my world had closed in.

Then I went to the local group and the volunteers were so lovely and warming. I saw other people with MS who were getting on with their lives, and realised life doesn’t have to become nothing. It was great.

Getting involved with my local group

My wife and I moved from Yorkshire to Colchester in 2016. Her kids always loved it here and we wanted to be close to my family, especially with my health issues. After 3 years of battling for a diagnosis, I finally got one in 2017. The neurologist came to my bedside and said there will be help for me. The MS Society turned up and they were that help.

A volunteer at the MS Society Colchester group reached out to me, and I really don’t think I would've got involved otherwise. He told me about their 'Getting to Grips with MS' course. This course had a week on different topics – fatigue management, benefits and welfare advice, mindfulness, and opportunities to get to know other people affected by MS.

My wife and I signed up, and I'm really thankful we did. It completely changed my perspective on MS. Off the back of that I became a regular, and within the same year, I started volunteering.

Volunteering and adapting to COVID-19

Volunteering has been so fulfilling and I’ve done so many different things. My mum is Egyptian so we put on an evening where she performed belly dancing for the group and we had Egyptian food.

There were 20 people affected by MS there – and for those 2 hours, that’s it, their mind is off MS. They were relaxed, they weren’t in pain, and they were all happy. It was just so rewarding.

We had to stop all face-to-face activities because of COVID-19, and it really bothered me that we weren’t seeing the people from our Friday coffee morning. For some group members, we're the only people they get to see. So last week we had our first virtual coffee morning on Zoom.

You are no longer alone

Without coming to my MS Society group I wouldn’t be where I am with my MS now. I wouldn't be as comfortable, and have a network of friends who really understand me. My family are lovely and they are very caring, but they don’t have MS and they don’t get why I’m frustrated in this bubble of MS sometimes.

Being part of a local group means you're no longer alone. And you can feel very alone when you have MS.

If you have MS or not, get involved with your local MS Society group. It’s made such a difference to me and I know it’s made a difference to others. The way I see it, if I only help one person, that’s one more person who didn’t feel like that before. And I’ve been able to help so many people.   

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The COVID-19 pandemic means we can’t meet face-to-face right now, but there’s still ways to you can help us be there for everyone with MS. If you can volunteer some time remotely, by phone, video call, or online we’d love to hear from you.

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