I was diagnosed with MS in 2008. A few years after that I saw an advert on social media about MS Society volunteering opportunities and thought it might be something I could do.
Sometimes life with MS can be tough. I liked that I’d have an opportunity to use some of the skills I had to help others who might be looking for support.
I’m a Helpline volunteer. My role is home based and my hours are flexible so I have different shifts every week. I like it as it gives me flexibility to juggle other commitments at the same time as helping the MS Society. I normally volunteer for about three hours every week.
Every call is different
I can receive phone calls from anyone affected by MS. Just as MS is different for everyone, every caller is different and has different reasons for calling us.
Calls from newly diagnosed people often stand out for me. Everyone reacts differently, but understandably many are scared about what the future may bring and how this will impact their lives and others around them. By exploring their fears, hopefully we can help callers feel a bit more positive and empowered to take whatever action they need to adapt to this news.
I love that I feel I’m helping someone
I love that I feel that I’m helping someone, sometimes just by listening to them or other times by exploring options or signposting to other areas they might find helpful.
It’s rewarding to know that someone is feeling just that little bit better after they’ve spoken to you. It’s incredibly touching when callers say something along the lines of: ‘I was really worried about calling you. I was anxious, but I’m really glad I called and I was able to talk to you and feel that I was not judged’. Often callers share things they feel they couldn’t discuss with friends or family.
The biggest reward
It’s great to be able to help others and a privilege to talk to them. But I’ve found it the greatest reward is for myself – I feel good that I can use my skills, develop new ones and gain a real sense of achievement.
Sometimes I finish my shift and I’m full of energy as I know that I’ve made a difference to someone. This gives me a huge buzz.
I’d encourage everyone to give it a go, whatever you put in, you’ll get back. And you’ll meet lovely people and be part of a great team too!