Sonia lives with relapsing remitting MS. She tells us about her experience as Group Coordinator for the Tameside, Glossop and District Group.
Hi! I’m Sonia, I’m 27 years old. I’ve had relapsing remitting MS for around 10 years now.
I’ve been diagnosed for just over 8 of those years and since then my life has been a rollercoaster of a journey! After keeping myself in the shadows for years and feeling quite isolated, I decided to reach out.
I searched for volunteering opportunities with the MS Society. That’s where I came across a Group Coordinator volunteer role. It was for the Tameside, Glossop and District group in Greater Manchester last December. It was perfect and felt like a role I really could make a difference in.
Reaching out to more people
I'm a young person of an ethnic minority with MS. So I really wanted to reach out to people who might not have got involved with the MS Society in the past.
As I’m a fairly new volunteer with no previous experience, my group essentially restarted from scratch.
Taking on the Group Coordinator role has been a challenge, but a challenge that I’ve loved having! As Group Coordinator you’re the leader of the group, and part of the Coordinating Team that makes sure the group runs smoothly.
My day-to-day volunteering duties vary
Some days I may have a couple of Zoom meetings or training sessions. Or I’ll be busy with trying to promote the group or plan events. Some days I’ll have no meetings and won’t do anything MS related. It all depends on you and how much time you want to volunteer.
I have good days and bad days with my MS, so I work around my symptoms. It’s something you can fit in alongside studies or work and most roles are quite flexible.
Recruiting other volunteers is a big challenge for our group at the moment. I’d really like to find more people to help progress our group. We currently only have 2 other volunteers, so I’m often juggling more than one role at a time.
But I still love what I do. It makes me feel good knowing that someone can really benefit from the time I put in.
My confidence is growing
I feel that having MS in this leadership role is an advantage. I know first-hand what problems MSers can face. And what it feels like to have this often invisible illness.
I’ve always naturally been a compassionate person. And through my experience of leading groups during my university days I feel like this is something I can do. While I’m only a few months into this role, I can already feel my confidence growing in my capabilities.
I’m much more open about my MS, I’m communicating and interacting with others who are the same as me. I’m helping people and being a volunteer has made me a much happier and content person in general!
I honestly feel at home with the MS Society. There’s such a heart-warming and positive vibe. Whether that be in events, in group meetings or even in Zoom training sessions.
Volunteering is a great opportunity for young people
It looks great on your CV that you volunteered for a large national and widely recognised charity. I’ve learnt new skills and improved upon my existing ones, which would look great for any employer.
Transferable skills like:
- communicating to different audiences
- task delegation
- time management
- organisational skills and many more.
If you’re thinking about volunteering, I’d say jump in. You’ll learn a lot about the MS Society and its mission to help people affected by MS.
It’s the best thing I’ve done for a long time and I can see goals for my future much clearer now.
Our volunteers make a big difference for people affected by MS. Find out how you can volunteer with us today.