Why I became an MS Helpline volunteer
It started with a tweet
I was browsing on Twitter a couple of years back and came across a tweet by the MS Society about volunteering for their national helpline.
Somehow, that tweet popped up at just the right time. I had been diagnosed with MS in 2009 and for quite some time after that my thoughts and feelings were naturally turned inwards to myself.
By the time I saw that tweet, I had the right distance from the turmoil of my own diagnosis to look outwards and think about other people.
From application to training
I applied, spoke to the lovely helpline manager a few times and was then accepted onto the training programme. The training was excellent - in depth, interesting, and often great fun. I passed the probationary period and for the last 18 months I’ve been working my weekly shifts on the helpline.
The calls vary widely. From people newly diagnosed, those who want factual information and help, to those who want to talk openly about their feelings. Talking to a stranger on the phone can be very freeing.
The benefits of volunteering
Volunteering is now part and parcel of my life. From a personal point of view, it’s reminded me that I have skills I can use to help out. Feeling useful is really important when you have a difficult condition which may limit some of the things you used to be able to do.
It’s also really lovely to hear someone who, at the start of a call, may be very distressed oroverwhelmed, feel a bit more able to cope at the end of it.
I’d recommend volunteering on the helpline to anyone who feels they are suited to it.