Danielle joined us in 2008 and has been our Governance Manager since 2019. In this blog she talks about the different roles she's had here, and how she balances work with managing her MS.
I was 27 years old when I was diagnosed and I’d recently won my first big work promotion.
Back then there were no treatments for MS, and I remember being terrified that my future might be taken away before I’d even got started.
The MS Society was there for me right from the off. I joined my local branch, and later became a regular visitor to the online forum and Facebook group. It was while I was off work recovering from a relapse that I came across the Jobs page on the website. I’d started to feel there had to be more to work than just paying the bills.
Becoming a Local Support Development Officer
There was a vacancy for a role supporting MS Society volunteers in my area to develop services, campaign for change and run events. And I hoped my marketing, training and people management skills might win me a job with the sense of purpose I knew I needed.
I became a Local Support Development Officer in 2008, and I knew straight away that I’d found what I was looking for. I loved working with our community to develop support, services and information for our community.
The enthusiasm and commitment of our volunteers kept me going long after my neurologist recommended I should change my job. He believed my symptoms would be better managed if I didn’t drive so many miles, work evenings and weekends, or spend all day on my feet.
Using my lived experience of MS
My manager supported me to consider alternative roles within the organisation that would enable me to be home-office-based and work fewer hours as a ‘reasonable adjustment’.
Later, I was invited to join the working group that developed our Disability Policy, to make sure colleagues who lived with impairments had access to the same support I’d had.
In 2012, I joined our Volunteering Team, where I was responsible for the website and resources that enabled our volunteers to be effective. In this role, I used my lived experience of MS to influence how we supported our volunteers.
Remembering how exhausting it had been to deliver training, I realised this could well be true for the volunteers taking part - over half of whom are people living with MS. I worked with some of those volunteers to develop accessible online training that meant people could join in without going out.
Leading by example
In 2019, I became Governance Manager. I work directly with our Board of Trustees to make sure they have all the information they need to make decisions about how we’re run, and what we focus on.
Our brilliant Trustees are all people with a close connection to our cause, and five of them are people living with MS. I’m so proud that my job gives me the opportunity to support our Board to lead by example, and put lived experience of MS at the heart of everything the organisation does.
My scared 27 year old self wouldn’t believe where that MS diagnosis has taken me.
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