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Laura sits on her sofa at home, a big clock behind her. She has brown hair and wears glasses.

Volunteering to make time to chat in Lanarkshire

Laura

Last year our Lanarkshire Project offered a range of support to people in the area living with MS. Laura, a member of our Lanarkshire group, shares her experiences of peer support. And why she now volunteers to host Time to Chat sessions for people in Lanarkshire.

When I first joined the Lanarkshire Project’s Time to Chat sessions it wasn’t as a volunteer - I was just a participant looking for something to do!

The online sessions offer a chance to meet other people living with MS to chat, reflect and share experiences.

Bringing people together from the wider Lanarkshire area gives you a chance to hear a range of people’s experiences and ideas.

It was extremely accessible. And you could find out that someone who’s only half an hour away from you is in the same situation and having the same struggle.

A positive legacy

The MS Society Lanarkshire Project came to a close in December 2020 after being extended due to the pandemic. In total 90 people engaged with the Time to Chat sessions in that time, including me!

I wanted to pick it up as a volunteer because the sessions had been so valuable to me. So I’ve started hosting sessions myself.

Even though the project had concluded, it didn’t mean that people’s issues had disappeared. Keeping the sessions going is a really positive legacy for the project.

It’s good to give people the option to join something like this so they know they’re not alone and these things are right on their doorstep.

I was happy to take it on for that reason. I’d found it so helpful and I wanted other people to continue to be able to access it too.

Letting things flow

I generally don’t lead the conversation. I just introduce myself and welcome people along.

I don’t set the sessions up around specific topics. If we want to talk about financial issues, for instance, then we can or if we want to talk about helping loved ones to understand MS, we can. We always just go with the flow of the conversation and let things open up.

You might not join a session looking for information but you learn things without expecting it.

There have been times where I’ve thought ‘I didn’t know that’ or ‘I’m going to try that’. I’m 17 years down the line with MS, so it shows how valuable speaking to other people in a similar situation can be.

The sessions are a very good way of giving people information that they’ve never thought about but might find really helpful.

The opportunities that one simple conversation can offer are fantastic.

If you’d like to join our Lanarkshire Group’s Time to Chat sessions led by Laura email [email protected]

Read more about local support in your area

Our Lanarkshire Project was funded by the ALLIANCE and William Grant Foundation, offering peer support and information to people across the area.