“I’m part of a team rather than a one man band”: Alan, our Campaigner of the Year 2017
Alan was diagnosed with MS in 2003 and quickly became involved with the MS Society: “Not long after being diagnosed, I met the MS community in Moray, and I became hopeful about my future.”
Ever since then, he’s dedicated himself to improving services for people with MS in his local area.
Giving people access to services
Over the last 10 years, Alan’s done a lot for the MS community in Scotland. But it’s his work with a neurology clinic that drew him to our attention.
“At one of the Support Group meetings we hold every month it became clear that lots of people in the area hadn’t seen a neurologist in years for travel reasons” explains Alan. “There were no neurologists based in the local area and the 80-mile journey to Aberdeen was too far for most people”.
“We couldn’t persuade the NHS to set up a clinic in our local town so instead we campaigned for video conferencing facilities to allow people with MS to access appointments remotely”.
With hard work, determination and the support of his MS community, Alan found a rehabilitation consultant who agreed to pilot some video conferencing appointments. Now people in his area can look forward to consultations without the stress of a long and sometimes dangerous journey.
“It really was a community effort”, says Alan.
Alan the achiever
That’s not all Alan’s done though. He worked with the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) to raise awareness of MS. Now the CAB staff have been trained in MS and provide home visits to help people with their benefits applications.
And without any previous experience of websites, Alan single-handedly created his own information website specifically for people with MS in the Moray area:
“I’m quite proud of the work I’ve done on the website. I did it because there was a lot of information that I struggled to gather in the early years of my diagnosis. It’s like a catalogue of information for people in Moray. I taught myself how to do the website. I see that as a bonus – it’s a new skill!”
“The driving force”
Our Regional External Relations Officer, Keith, has worked closely with Alan: “Alan is one of those rare understated people who has the ability to engage, encourage and empower others to get involved in local issues. While local campaigning is very much a team effort, Alan is the driving force behind this.”
And what does Alan say about his award? “I’d like to think I got the award because I’m part of a team rather than a one man band.”