I first started volunteering as I wanted to help people affected by the condition I’ve been dealing with for 40 years. But after joining my local MS group four years ago, I realised that volunteering also gives me sense of belonging, purpose and focus.
The role of Group Coordinator
I volunteer as Group Coordinator. When I joined my local group I went straight into that role, probably due to having some experience in management, strategic development and affecting change. I’m retired now so I have more time to dedicate to the group.
My role is to act as a facilitator, to deliver what the group wants to do for the local MS community. I also make sure all policies and procedures are adhered to, and look after service provision and fundraising.
In a way I’m also representing the MS Society locally and nationally. I’m able to influence how the group runs and how it delivers services for local people with MS.
Raising awareness of MS in the local community
One of our projects was to raise awareness of MS in the local community. We worked with young people and talked to them about the impact MS has. This helped them to change their perceptions of MS and how to care for people with it.
Last year, we were approached by the Coronation Street actor Richard Hawley, whose character in the programme – Jonny – got diagnosed with MS. I spent some time with Richard introducing him to the condition, to help him portray an accurate picture of MS.
Making a difference to the lives of people with MS
What I like the most about my role is that I can see something being done. I can witness tangible difference being made to other people’s lives, particularly those who are newly diagnosed.
I enjoy putting forward new approaches, managing processes and giving guidance to people who are going through a difficult phase.
The thing that I have learned the most from this role is empathy. I’m able to better relate to my peers, build relationships and give people the opportunity to express themselves.