Heather has been a Community Champion for MS-UK since April 2019. This is her story.
I initially got involved with MS-UK when I volunteered at the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2018. I found it incredibly rewarding to be part of something that made such a difference to MS-UK and, I was so inspired by what the runners achieved, that I even took on the British 10k myself in March, and raised £300!
Since then, I have gone on to complete the Colchester Half Marathon for MS-UK (raising a further £470) and volunteered at several fundraising events. When the opportunity arose to become a MS-UK Community Champion, I jumped at the chance.
Why I do it...
I lead a very busy life and really don’t have as much time to give to charity as I’d like, but being a Community Champion means that I can help to raise money for MS-UK in my own time, without too much of a commitment. It is completely flexible around my busy lifestyle.
I have seven collection pots placed at various shops in my local area, and I change them every three to four months when I am passing by. I find it so rewarding when I empty the collection pots and find out how much has been raised. The pennies really do add up! It’s also lovely to speak to the different shops about MS-UK and how they support people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS). It’s surprising how many people have a connection to the condition when you get talking, and I know by having these conversations I am helping to raise awareness for the charity.
If somebody is considering becoming a Community Champion for MS-UK, I would definitely recommend it. I always feel so valued and that I am part of the MS-UK family. I know what I am doing is making a positive difference to those affected by MS and I’m proud to be out there with my MS-UK ID badge on!
If you would like to be part of something special and become a Community Champion like Heather, get in touch with our Fundraising team by calling 01206 226500 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more!
Meet Kylie, one of our newest Community Champions! Becoming a Community Champion is a great way to raise awareness of multiple sclerosis (MS) and help raise vital funds to support MS-UK. Read Kylie's story to find out what it's like to be a Community Champion.
Why I volunteered...
I volunteered for MS-UK as I have MS myself; I’ve recently found out more about this particular charity and liked what I heard. I haven’t been involved in any of the MS charities before as I found the volunteering a bit overwhelming with working and bringing up my daughter. I’m now at a different stage in my life where life isn’t quite so hectic, so thought it would be nice to try and do something positive that benefits those with MS who might need assistance in some way.
How did I get involved?
I got involved through one of my best friends Sally-Ann. She also has MS and volunteered recently. After she told me how lovely everyone was and how it wasn’t a huge commitment to be a Community Champion that was full of pressure. My biggest trigger with my MS is when I’m under pressure or stress and that isn’t a part of being a Community Champion, so I thought why not sign up!
What I do...
Being a Community Champion means that I speak to local businesses, shops etc. about locating a charity pot in their premises. So I can just fit this in with my usual daily life. I don’t have to make any special trips anywhere unless I want to. If I’m going to the butchers for instance, to get our dog some meat then I’d just ask if they would be kind enough to take a charity pot. If it’s a no, it doesn’t matter, at least I’ve tried and it is still raising awareness. If it’s a yes, then that’s amazing!! Quick form to fill in and then you give them the pot and check in with them a few weeks later and see how it’s going. When a pot is full I would go and collect it, exchange for a new one and pay in the money to the MS-UK’s account. Of course you can always do more if you want to in terms of fundraising. I’m hoping to do a little challenge in July to try and raise a few pounds.
How does it make me feel?
I’ve literally only been doing this for a few weeks and I’m enjoying it so much. I feel like I’m contributing and that in turn helps someone. Also, by being out and about in my MS UK T-shirt it’s raising awareness. So even if I get a few knockbacks, it’s not a disaster or demotivating because it’s still creating a conversation around the subject.
What do I get back from it?
This is really going to sound over the top but I want to shout from the rooftops how much this also benefits me. I am a real people person and love nothing better than having a conversation with someone in person, whether I know them or not. Since I have not been able to work, I don’t really get that interaction anymore and it’s something I really, really miss. Going out into the community and speaking to people about MS-UK has brought that back into my life without any added pressure that would affect my MS. It gives me purpose and the feeling that I’m achieving something. Really does give me the feel-good factor because I’m doing something positive. I am so grateful that this opportunity is available. Aside from those positives, by talking to the local community, I have found out about a local MS centre that offers all sorts of therapeutic treatments that I had no knowledge of. I’ve met a lovely lady who took a charity pot for me whose mother had MS, we had a great conversation and she’s more than willing to do whatever she can. The whole experience is very rewarding even after just a few weeks. #TeamPurple all the way!!
Meet Laura, a member of our Board of Trustees here at MS-UK. Everyone on the board is a volunteer, bringing their expertise to the table to help deliver MS-UK's strategy and help the community.
I know first hand the value of volunteers in the planning and running of a charity through my own employment and hospice work. Volunteering gives you a unique and privileged position to influence the care and support that those with conditions like Multiple Sclerosis need in their journey of living the life they want to lead. This was the main reason I wanted to be a trustee at MSUK. I truly admire the approach of holding those people with MS at the centre of MSUK’s work. The ongoing positive messages that MSUK gives those individuals it supports, maintaining openness to current literature and research, is an approach that provides empowerment to those with MS to live healthier and happier lives. The knowledge I have gained through my own employment I hope has been of value to the trustee board in providing direction and making decisions that directly impact the work of MSUK. I have also enjoyed learning new skills and having the opportunity to see the vast considerations needed to ensure a charity runs to the best ability it can. It has been extremely rewarding to see decisions made at board level playing out to the positive results to those supported by MSUK. It is a privilege to volunteer as a trustee for MSUK and I hope that others will consider the skills and knowledge they may have that could support others in a volunteer capacity to ensure life-line charities are able to continue with their hard work that so many clearly benefit from.
This week, it's Volunteers Week! It's a chance to honour and celebrate all of out wonderful volunteers across MS-UK, from our fundraisers to our Community Champions, our Board of Trustees and the Virtual Insights Panel (VIP). Everyone at MS-UK appreciates all of the hard work that you do, and we couldn't offer the services we provide without your help to further help the MS community. Sally-Ann is one of our Community Champions and this is her story.
Hi, I’m Sally-Ann and I’ve only recently started to volunteer for MS-UK and straight away felt so welcomed to what I felt like was an extended family.
I myself have had MS for 9 years now and am extremely lucky that I’m still able to work full time and lead a pretty normal life with a few limitations. My late mother also had MS and so when I got my diagnosis it was not something new to me. My mother was primary progressive, confined to a wheelchair and my father her full time career.
I know how awful this disease can be and how things can change overnight. Since my diagnosis it changed my life, and I’ve tried to do something to raise money for charity every year. This means I’ve walked 26 miles, climbed Snowdonia (twice), 100 miles in a month and various other things.
I’ve always wanted to raise awareness for MS and share my story to help others affected by MS.
When I saw the advert for a Community Champion I thought I could do that. I’d be able to get the name out there and get people thinking, raising the awareness and then raise money at the same time. Ticks all the boxes of what I what to achieve.
From day one MS-UK have welcomed me with open arms and I really feel like they are an extended family, and because of this it makes me want to do more for them. I want to think of other ways to raise money and awareness.
I get so much from knowing every little penny I raise helps them so much and they are so thankful, and I know this as they will ring and tell me.
So I know everything I do means so much to them, and therefore it means so much more to me. Thank you MS-UK!
MS-UK has been close to my heart for 10 years after my mother was diagnosed with MS in 2009. As a 15-year-old, I struggled to comprehend what this really meant, certainly in the long term, and how best to help her through what was happening. My experience as a volunteer has ranged from physical challenges to now sitting on the board of MS-UK. Being a ‘volunteer’ means different things to different people and I wanted to share my thoughts on this special week to appreciate those who give their time to causes most in need of their amazing support.
Personally, I see volunteering as a contribution to a cause that holds deep resonance. Volunteering is such a powerful concept because it presents itself as a means of contribution that anyone can undertake, for any reason, while leaving a positive impact on the identified community. I see it as a collective, the lifeblood of charities and their success. It brings together a group of people giving their time in any way they can to improve the lives of those most in need of support. It brings out the best in communities and is a unifying concept in situations that often create feelings of detachment.
I wanted to leave behind that feeling of helplessness and I felt by doing something that would help my mother but also the wider MS community. I was drawn to a cause for a very specific reason looking to support an individual and did not realise how far that contribution extends. Those closest to us benefit from the process, but the money raised/time given is felt by the entire community, and that is something that gives me greater motivation.
Volunteering for MS-UK started for me and my family with physical challenges: I have cycled to Barcelona and Paris over the last few years, my brother has done the marathon, my aunt has completed some crazy challenges that wouldn’t cross most of our minds! This was a means of contribution that proves so important to every charity and allows for both fun and very sore legs in the process.
The opportunity to sit on the board and take up a more regular and ‘back office’ position has given me complete appreciation of the incredible work behind the scenes that goes into making a charity like MS-UK possible. I have met some of our amazing volunteers who give their time to enable a small charity like ours to prosper, and their dedication and enthusiasm is essential to our success.
Being able to come together and be part of a cause driven by acts of selflessness is a very powerful concept. We all have our own ways of contributing. We all have our own reasons for doing so. The reasons and methods vary but the collective goal is what gives us a strong sense of togetherness and community, and that is what volunteering is all about.
Being a part of this community means a great deal to me and volunteering for MS-UK is something I want to continue doing for many years!
My name is Allen Ball and I got involved with MS-UK because my mum was affected by MS before she sadly passed away. I also wanted to help a local charity, helping people in my community. I initially ran the London Marathon in 2017 for MS-UK, and since then I have continued helping in a number of ways - volunteering at larger events like the London Marathon and Asics 10k, as well as smaller ones such as a fund raiser at a local pub.
Over the last couple of months during lockdown I have been trying to raise a little more for MS-UK as I know all charities have taken a hit with their big fundraising events being cancelled. For 2.6 I walked the equivalent of 2.6 times up the Gherkin on a set of steps (which turned out to be harder than a lot of the running I have done). Also, a friend of mine knitted a Myles mascot for me, which I have raffled.
Whenever I have turned up for an event, I have always been made to feel welcome and I now feel like a member of the MS-UK family. We are all a friendly bunch!
Last year I even won a prize for my volunteering, ‘Room To Reward’, which gives me a free hotel stay somewhere in the next few months.
If you are considering volunteering for MS-UK I can really recommend it, and you would be more than welcome.
Hello, my name is Sophia, I am Seven years old and I care a lot about MS-UK - It feels cool knowing I’m MS-UK’s youngest volunteer! I started volunteering because I like helping MS-UK and I want to help people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS), I want them to feel happy and have a smile on their face. My great aunty Loraine has MS and she isn’t very well. I started by helping her, but I also want to help other people too.
I started volunteering for the MS-UK cheer-point cheerers when I went to watch my mum run the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2017. My dad and I cheered with Jenny at mile 17. I enjoyed it so much I wanted to do it again! Sometimes it gets cold standing around but I don’t make a fuss because the cheering is more important!
The best bit of volunteering is cheering everyone on at events, especially when I’m allowed to use the megaphone! I like to cheer all the runners, “Well done runners! You can do this! Do not stop! The quicker you do it, the quicker it’s over!”. I also like to look out for the purple t-shirts so I can shout MS-UK! And one time Jenny bought me chips so that might be the best thing that’s happened at an event!
I am Nigel Watts and as I am unable to participate in “walks” or “runs” to raise funds for MS-UK, instead I have volunteered my time, either at home or in the MS-UK office, to help with identifying potential 3rd parties to approach for future funding and to provide taxi transport for some of the clients who attend its wellness centre, Josephs Court. I have also contributed to the existing Choices leaflets, proofreading for consistency, grammar and spelling.
In addition, I have completed an MS-UK Helpline case study and I am one of the founding members of the MS-UK Steering Group which meets every two months. Even under the current lockdown measures, we still meet using Zoom!
The MS-UK Steering Group is made up of seven volunteers who use Josephs Court and is led by Centre Manager Dean Jeffreys. The purpose of the MS-UK Steering Group is to discuss how the centre is working to satisfy the needs of members who use the facility, any suggestions of improvement or change. It is also a great place to just chat about life in general. Anything discussed in the group stays in the group.
Outside of Josephs Court, I am still able to volunteer through putting together mailing lists online for MS nurses, neurologists, MS therapy centres and pharmacies.
I have found my time volunteering both at home and at Josephs Court very fulfilling as the challenges have kept my brain working. Volunteering is also a pleasant change from playing Solitaire or Sudoku!
About a year ago, I began volunteering at the MS-UK’s wellness centre, Josephs Court. I joined the “Welcome Team” where my role is to support the Centre Staff and Wellness Coaches by helping to make the Centre a welcoming and supportive place for clients and visitors.
I had first come to Josephs Court at a friend’s recommendation. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2017, but I knew little about MS other than I had it and was overall not in a positive frame of mind.
I remember meeting Vicky and Alan at the introduction session. They were very friendly and explained what MS-UK and Josephs Court had to offer. They showed me a positive way forward that enabled me to begin to come to terms with my diagnosis and start to move on both physically and mentally.
Now that I am retired, volunteering has enabled me to get involved and support the unique work MS-UK undertakes. It has been every bit as rewarding and challenging as I expected, and I realise it has also given me a personal sense of belonging, purpose and focus.
What I enjoy the most about my volunteer role is interacting with others. Even if I only meet them occasionally for just an hour or two each week, I can see the tangible positive benefits people get by attending Josephs Court. I particularly enjoy the fun, social interaction, sense of support and companionship that benefits everyone who comes to Josephs Court. I find my involvement very rewarding.
The skill I have developed most from participating at Josephs Court is building empathy. I’m able to better relate to others, build relationships and support people to communicate and interact together.
Through volunteering, I have also personally benefited as it has helped me cope with my own MS challenges. I find that while at Josephs Court I meet people who are not defined by their MS and get to know them as individuals, their names, personalities, unique experiences and personal ambitions. They are great role models and their ability to share understanding and build on mutual experiences makes for an incredibly supportive and empowering environment which I am proud to be a part of.
Hello, my name is James and I have been a volunteer for MS-UK for about two months working in various departments in their office.
I had been looking for ways to develop my office skills and gain office experience, and I saw on MS-UK’s website that a way to do this was to volunteer in their offices and support them behind the scenes. I realised that this would be a great opportunity for me so I contacted them immediately. Within a week of filling in an application form, I was contacted by them and asked to come in to do a day’s voluntary administration work in the communications department, where I carried out a variety of tasks such as data entry and posting and packaging. Subsequently, I volunteered in the helpline department to help pack Choices leaflets into envelopes and send them out. Now I am volunteering one day a week in the fundraising department, monitoring Facebook donations and thanking donors for their contributions.
I feel that MS-UK has really helped me develop my office skills. They have excellent staff and have given me lots of support along the way. I can’t thank them enough for all the opportunities they are giving me and I’d encourage anyone to get involved where they can.
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