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Running for Dad in this week's marathon!

Posted on: April 16 2018

In our Fundraiser of the Month article for April, Vic Darnell tells us why she is taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon in aid of MS-UK this weekend...and why every step will be for her Dad...Photo of Vic's dad running the marathon in 1986

When I was eight years old I remember joining thousands of other people lining the streets of London, waving and cheering as streams of people ran past. At the time I didn't really understand the enormity of what those people were doing, running mile after mile, some fast, some slow, some walking but all in the aim of completing 26.2 miles. Amongst those people was my Dad. 

Fast forward a few years and my Dad had to take every ounce of energy he had and a hell of a lot of drugs to pull himself out of his wheelchair and slowly holding tight on to me, walk a few steps down the aisle of a church on my wedding day. He had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) the year before and had his world turned upside down. From being fit and healthy, in the Police to being forced to take early retirement and a complete change of life. 

For years after I watched my Dad, I would watch the marathon on TV every year saying to myself 'one day', and since taking up running the itch has needed scratching so I decided the year I turned 40 to make my bucket list dream happen to take part in the most amazing marathon in the world.

As soon as I heard I'd been accepted to run for MS-UK I set the wheels in motion for my fundraising, looking at where I could start generating easy money with little effort whilst I planned a big fundraiser. Sponsorship started coming in as soon as I announced my challenge and as a Slimming World Consultant I have had amazing support from my members for my fundraising. I have a change pot in group and my members along with other groups in Chelmsford, Essex agreed for the next few months to have these for MS-UK. Everyone's odd 5ps, 10ps are really adding up to over £50 a month donated this way. Again members supported through donating their slimmed out of clothes which were swapped for cash and a Christmas raffle in my groups raised £284.

MS-UK charity night 3.jpgMichelle who runs Chelmer RoadRunners, a local running group which is where I first learned to run completing a couch to 5km course, sings in a local band and I approached her to sing at a charity night I was planning. Seen as she got me into the mess in the first place it seemed fitting to have her at the event! A local pub was the venue (free hire to maximise funds raised!) and with the fabulous entertainment, a raffle to be held. After hundreds of letters, emails and approaching local companies I managed to secure some great donated prizes and started selling raffle tickets to people who couldn't make the night, again to ensure I raised as much as possible. Promotion of the event went out on social media, posters up locally and great support from local papers - three have now printed my story to help further support!

The charity night went well, everyone had a fantastic time and most importantly a brilliant £1,186.06 was raised to bring my total fundraising over my initial aim of £2,500 - but I'm not stopping there - a sweepstake planned, further change pots and sponsorship will hopefully bring the total to £3,000, or more! Every penny will help MS-UK give amazing support to people like my Dad.

So now, the countdown is on till the big day itself where I shall be so proud to be running the same streets that my Dad did in 1986 (but not accepting his challenge of beating his time of 3 hours 35 minutes!)

You can sponsor Vic today online

 

MS-UK supports the next generation of occupational therapy students

Posted on: April 05 2018

MS-UK’s Head of Services Diana Crowe and Centre Manager Dean Jeffreys inspire The University of Essex occupational therapy students

MS-UK’s Wellness Centre, Josephs Court works closely with the University of Essex to support occupational therapy students (OTS) by providing role-emerging placements while they train. 

Each year the Josephs Court team is invited to speak at a symposium with the new OT recruits about role-emerging placements at its Wellness Centre in Colchester, Essex and increase their knowledge of multiple sclerosis (MS). 

Diana Crowe, Head of Services, said: ‘We took the opportunity to promote all of our services, but focused on what we deliver at Josephs Court, such as the exercise equipment and the benefits this brings to clients.’

‘There was good interaction and we were asked about the social activities we provide, so we discussed the MS-UK Social Group in Colchester, which has regular coffee mornings and other events such as bingo!’

‘Due to recent headline news regarding HSTC there was an interest in how this treatment could impact on us as a charity and our clients. Just like everyone else we will have to wait and see how the treatment develops, but we will continue to support people with MS for as long as they need us.’

‘We split into groups, which gave us a chance to speak in more detail with some of the students,’ explains Dean Jeffreys, Centre Manager. ‘The students were interested to know about APS Therapy, how we link up with other services and how politics impacts on our strategy.’

Speakers from St Helena’s Hospice spoke about its gardening project for those at the end of life and Craig, from Pots the Soldier, spoke about his post-traumatic stress diagnosis after leaving the army and how he found a love of pottery thanks to the support of OTs – very inspirational!

‘It was great to see the students so interested in the work MS-UK does and we hope to continue to work with Essex University over the coming years. Who knows one day we may have our own MS-UK Occupational Therapist,’ adds Diana.

 

Based in Essex? Volunteer on your doorstep!

Posted on: February 22 2018

vlm-e-news-image1-6.jpgHello, The Colchester Half Marathon will be taking place on Sunday 25 March and MS-UK has been chosen as one of the charities to benefit from the funds raised from the event! We are really excited to be part of the big day, and I would like to invite you to join us! You could volunteer to be a marshal, help us cheer our hearts out at our water station or come along to Weston Homes Community Stadium to greet runners with a smile and good luck before the race begins. It is a truly brilliant day, and cheering on #TeamPurple is really rewarding.

Ben, who volunteered with MS-UK at last year's Colchester Half Marathon, says... ‘I have been volunteering at events with MS-UK for a while, but Colchester Half Marathon is right on my doorstep so last year I joined the MS-UK team who set up at the water station at mile 11. The atmosphere was buzzing! The runners really need a final boost near the end of the race, and I felt really proud to be part of the MS-UK cheer squad who gave them that – many runners also gave us a round of applause, which was brilliant!’

So if you, your friends and family want be part of a day to remember please get in touch! You can email Catherine or call us on 01206 226500. Here's to another fantastic event on our doorstep! Jill Jill Purcell, Fundraising Manager

Guest blog: Fiona's two truths and a lie!

Posted on: February 15 2018

fiona.jpgFiona Sakal, who has been a Trustee of MS-UK for over decade, recently joined us in the office for a week to see what we do to support people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) on a daily basis. We couldn't resist asking for an interview, and we started off with a 'two truths and a lie' question...

Two truths and a lie…
I was born and raised in Germany
I qualified for the Olympic Equestrian team
I was Cabin Crew, based at London Heathrow

Read on to find out all about Fiona…

I joined the board of MS-UK in 2007, when we were still MSRC and working from Peartree Industrial Estate with three car parking spaces, one toilet and not enough windows. My brother-in-law had MS for 24 years and although I was not fortunate enough to meet him, the impact his condition had on the rest of the family remains, so I was delighted to be asked to join the Board of Trustees.
Obviously, I was full of enthusiasm and committed to running the Virgin Money London Marathon the following spring! I definitely did not take into account the enormity of the training schedule that had to fit in alongside my final law exams, a full house renovation and a wedding. Ten years later and

I am almost ready to commit again, but not quite!

When Peter and I married in 2008 we decided that we would like to raise money for the charity rather than receive gifts. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of family, friends and clients and with the help of Roger Dakin and a game of heads and tails at our wedding reception, we raised £12,000.

Fast forward 11 years and two little girls, I am still as passionate about MS-UK as ever and love to get involved wherever possible. Under the leadership of Amy, the charity has grown to such an extent that I was beginning to need a flow chart to understand how everything fit together and wasn’t confidant that I was able to contribute effectively as a trustee. So here I am!

I have really enjoyed my ‘work experience’ and have found it invaluable to get to know everybody and experience first-hand what each role entails, both in the office and at Josephs Court. The atmosphere is very warm and welcoming and it is clear that everyone has a real passion for what they do. I am incredibly proud to represent MS-UK and excited to see what we can achieve in the future.

So, what was the lie?

I qualified for the Olympic Equestrian team!

The winner takes it all!

Posted on: February 14 2018

Hello, I am really pleased to announce today that we’ve launched a brand new way for you to support MS-UK – and you could be a winner!

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We’ve teamed up with make a smile lottery to offer a really easy way to help our work supporting people affected by multiple sclerosis. There are weekly cash prizes to be won, with a first prize of £250!

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You can join online and pay by either monthly direct debit or by card, so you choose how you play. And for every £1 play, 60p will come directly to MS-UK!

So, do you feel lucky? Roll up and play!

Good luck!

Jill

Jill Purcell, Fundraising Manager

Anyone can enter; you just need to be over 16 and living in mainland Great Britain. Please play responsibly.

Legal terms

make a smile lottery, 9 The Courtyards, Phoenix Square, Wyncolls Road, Colchester, Essex, CO4 9PE. Telephone 0300 303 4500. Email hello@makeasmilelottery.org.uk. Visit www.makeasmilelottery.org.uk. You must be 16 or over to play make a smile lottery. Please play responsibly. Responsible gambling support: www.begambleaware.org. make a smile lottery is wholly owned by St Helena Hospice, a charity working with other charities to raise much needed funds. Promoter: St Helena Hospice trading as make a smile lottery. Licensed by the Gambling Commission Number 000-004685-N-306842-006 www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk. St Helena Hospice is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England and Wales Number 01511841. Registered Charity Number 280919. Registered Office: Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester CO4 9JU.

New year, new you?

Posted on: January 05 2018

blog-graphic-050118.jpgHi everyone, 

It’s that time of year again when the resolutions begin piling up and before you know it you have given up chocolate! Well, we don’t want to ask you to do something as drastic as that, but we would love it if you’d support MS-UK as we celebrate our 25th anniversary!

If health and fitness is your thing, why not join one of our fantastic events happening in 2018…

Colchester Half Marathon

MS-UK is based in Colchester, Essex so this one is right on our doorstep, and there’s still time to join the race! 2018 is a very special year for us too, as MS-UK will be charity partners for the Colchester Half Marathon on Sunday 25 March.

Apply today on the Colchester Half Marathon website.

British 10k

Join 25,000 pairs of feet as they pound the streets of one of the world’s most iconic capital cities on Sunday 15 July.

Apply today on our website.

Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100
On Sunday 29 July the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 will start in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park before finishing on The Mall in central London.

Apply today on our website.

I would love to welcome you to #TeamPurple, so do check out our website for lots more fundraising ideas. Whatever you do in 2018, we all wish you lots of luck!

Best wishes,

Jenny

Events Fundraiser, MS-UK

Our Christmas opening hours...

Posted on: December 18 2017

We would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas on behalf of the whole MS-UK team!

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Over Christmas the MS-UK Helpline service will be closing from 1pm on Friday 22 December. This service will be up and running again at 9am on Tuesday 02 January.

Our local wellness centre for anyone affected by multiple sclerosis, Josephs Court will be open for some of the Christmas period. Our opening hours over Christmas are as follows:

Saturday 23 December, 10am – 4pm
Monday 25 – Tuesday 26 December closed
Wednesday 27 December, 10am – 2pm
Thursday 28 December closed
Friday 29 December, 10am – 2pm
Saturday 30 December, 10am – 4pm
Monday 01 January closed
Tuesday 02 January 9am – 5pm

We hope you have a lovely Christmas!

Guest blog: Making the most of your work experience

Posted on: November 17 2017

florence-work-experience-nov.jpgHi, My name is Florence, and I have recently embarked upon what will hopefully be just the beginning of my MS-UK volunteering journey. After a few tumultuous months of post-uni panic I decided I was ready to start gaining some valuable vocational experience in the marketing department of a local charity. From various internships and volunteering posts which I have enjoyed in the past I made the decision that the marketing path was the most suitable direction for me to take in the charity sector. The MS-UK marketing department has provided the perfect environment for me to pick up key skills and techniques necessary for success in the charity marketing world. I wanted to share a few top tips which have helped me to ensure that I have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience from my limited time here at MS-UK…

  1. ASK QUESTIONS! - This is without doubt the most important part of utilising your learning opportunity to the best of your ability! Nobody expects you to have all the answers as you’re quivering with feelings of inadequacy at your far-too-fancy desk. Take your colleagues seriously when they give you the ‘if you’ve got any questions just give me a shout’ spiel. Every question I’ve asked at MS-UK has been answered with a smile, and I’d still be stuck on my first task if I hadn’t plucked up the courage to admit I was somewhat clueless about the best way to make a merry poster for our Christmas fundraising appeal
  2. Find your niche - Make sure your team provide you with a wide variety of tasks to complete during your placement. Ensure you have at least one of your own personal projects to work on, however big or small, so that you have work to be proud of and claim as your own when discussing the value of your experience in future. However, don’t allow yourself to be caught up in one minute area of the job. Experiencing an assortment of aspects to the role will enable you to find your niche and understand yourself as an employee. If you work out which tasks you’re good at you can establish an understanding of the type of role you may excel in in the future and tailor your job search to these realisations
  3. Strengths and weaknesses of the company itself - Work out what sort of organisation is best suited to your needs. You may find that you rely upon a strict sense of routine, therefore a ‘flexible working hours’ policy is definitely not for you. Others may thrive in an environment where they can mix up their working pattern on a daily basis. Getting to know which aspects of the organisation you’re working for are tailored to your attributes will really aid your understanding of what it is YOU want from your workplace, as well as what THEY want from you

Find out more about MS-UK and meet our team on our website!  

Guest blog: Lee's volunteering story

Posted on: October 05 2017

In this guest blog Lee talks about volunteering with MS-UK in the marketing department...

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Hi I’m Lee and throughout the university summer break I’ve been volunteering behind the scenes, in the marketing department at MS-UK.

I spent a lot of time researching the organisation before deciding to get in touch, and as luck would have it a voluntary position was just about to be advertised, seeking a helping hand at making sense of social media data. As a chemistry student myself, I feel obliged to point out that chemists love number-crunching and spreadsheets – it’s like our third favourite thing to do after quoting Breaking Bad, and spelling our names out with chemical symbols. Needless to say I was keen to get involved and help as much as I possibly could.

What’s really struck me at my time here is the atmosphere – everybody is exceptionally warm and enthusiastic, making me feel like a welcome member of the team. I was even invited along to our team day at a working farm; quickly becoming the envy of my friends as my Snapchat story filled up with videos of pigs and pygmy goats.

I’ve done a ton of research and learned a lot while working on this project, but have also had plenty of opportunity to be creative too. I got involved in the filming and editing of our recent Choices leaflets video, which was a lot of fun as I tried my best to accentuate Ryan’s excellent performance on-screen. Several years from now, when an Academy Award inevitably finds its way through my letterbox, I’ll know exactly who to credit for kick-starting my Hollywood career.

It’s been a fantastic experience volunteering for MS-UK, I am very grateful for the trust and responsibilities I have been given, and I would urge anyone else considering it to get involved too!

Find out more about volunteering on the MS-UK website.

Our Impact Report…

Posted on: September 18 2017

impact-report-cover-2016.jpgI am really pleased to say you can now read our Impact Report online at www.ms-uk.org/aboutus.

This booklet is our way to thank you to MS-UK supporters and celebrate our success in a public way.

Our mission is to provide high quality, accessible and relevant information and support to anyone affected by multiple sclerosis and in 2016 we built upon our strong foundations to do this.

In this report you can read about the MS-UK Helpline, New Pathways magazine and our Essex-based wellness centre, Josephs Court. I hope you enjoy reading about the progress we made in 2016.

I am proud of what my team has achieved in meeting needs of our clients. Throughout the year we continued to listen to real people affected by multiple sclerosis, and use their voices to shape our services.

Thank you for being part of the journey so far, and I look forward to the future and supporting even more people affected by MS.

Best wishes,

Amy

Amy Woolf, CEO

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