Bringing a younger approach to my local group

Fri 08 September 2023

Kirsty tells us about what her role as a Communications Volunteer entails. And how she’s used her lived experience to encourage younger people to join her group.

I was diagnosed with MS in my early 20s, back in 2009. My dad had primary progressive MS when I was growing up, which meant my own diagnosis was quite quick and not so much of a surprise. 

I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS, which over the last 14 years has had its challenges. I’m sure many of you can relate to this. However, I’m always keen to keep a positive mindset when it comes to MS! And with the support of friends and family, and my local MS Society Borders Group, I’ve been able to make changes and carry on leading a very fulfilling life. I‘ve travelled the world, got married, changed jobs and done crazy fundraising things like a zip wire. I’ve even created a gin!  

After my diagnosis I was keen to search out any support available. So, I took part in a Living Well with MS course at my local hospital. I loved engaging with the volunteers and the other people taking part in the course.  I really got a lot from it. So, when MS Society Scotland asked for volunteers to help lead the course I thought, why not?

Getting involved with the local group

I’d always been aware of my local MS Borders Group but hadn’t been keen to engage as everyone seemed much older than me. I was asked in 2018 to become a member of the Coordinating Team as they were actively trying to get more young people involved. I was excited when they asked me to join as I didn’t want others to be put off for the same reason I was. And I wanted to bring a fresher, younger approach to things.

We now have four younger people on the Coordinating Team! As part of my role within the group, I took on the responsibility of being the Communications Volunteer.

I can hear you asking, “What’s a Communications volunteer? That sounds a bit daunting”. It’s a great role which includes helping to get messages and information out locally to help those with MS. So they know what help and services are available to them. Sounds much more interesting when put like that right? This is done in a variety of ways, such as through our Facebook page and our monthly newsletter.

I also contribute to our MS Borders Young'uns Group. The Young’uns Group was created so the younger members have a place where their voice can be heard. It can sometimes be easier to connect with people who are likeminded or have a similar experience to you. We organise events for us all to meet up and socialise because it’s important to remember life doesn’t stop just because you have MS!

Challenges I’ve faced in my role

The Scottish Borders is a very large and rural area. So one of the challenges I’ve found as a Communications Volunteer is getting the information about the group out to the right people. To get round this I got our local MS Nurse involved. We gave her lots of information about the group so she could pass it on to existing and newly diagnosed patients. They now know they’re not alone and how to get in touch with us if they want our support.

Such a rewarding experience

I really enjoy volunteering for the MS Society as you get so much from it! You’re meeting and helping others and can make friends for life. Volunteering has really helped me grow in confidence. It’s also taught me different skills.

I’d say to anyone thinking of volunteering to just do it! You can really make a difference sharing your experiences. I find the role extremely rewarding and I have no doubt if you want to help others, you would too!

Find out more about volunteering with us