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.
Click here for more information about volunteering
This week is national Volunteers' Week and we are celebrating by saying a big thank you to our amazing volunteers. Last year over 130 people volunteered with MS-UK in all sorts of ways. Together you donated 500 hours of time to MS-UK and helped us be here for people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS). We literally couldn't do it without you, thank you!
This year we have lots of opportunities to get involved. You could join our fantastic cheer squad and support our fundraisers to make it over the finish line at a national event. Or you could come into our offices in Essex and get stuck in behind the scenes. We are also currently looking for volunteer counsellors to help us offer telephone counselling to more people who may need it across the UK.
Whatever you decide to do, we'll be here every step of the way to support you. You can share your skills and develop new ones, gain some experience working with a national charity and we provide you with a full induction and ongoing support.
In the mean time, you can find out more about Volunteers' Week across the country on the NCVO website. If you already support MS-UK, don't forget to download our Twibbon to show the world you are part of #TeamPurple.
Best wishes and happy volunteering!
Sarah Wright, General Manager
Today marks the end of Volunteers' Week 2018, and what a week it has been!
To celebrate the week we created a series of short films starring some of our fantastic supporters, like Emma...
You can watch all of the films today on our YouTube channel.
If you have been inspired by Volunteers' Week, do explore our current opportunities to get involved...whether you prefer being behind the scenes or up front cheering at a national event, we have something for you!
In the spirit of Volunteers' Week 2018, we're thanking every single one of our amazing volunteers! Without them we simply wouldn't be able to offer the level of support that we give to those living with multiple sclerosis. We sat down with Lauren Duckling to tell us about her volunteering experience...
What events have you volunteered at for MS-UK?
I've volunteered for the London Marathon, the Royal Parks Half Marathon, and the Colchester Half Marathon.
What is the best thing about volunteering?
I think the best thing about volunteering is meeting people who have raised money for MS-UK. Being at the finish and seeing their faces as they achieve what they set out to achieve will always be one of the best moments for me!
Why do you think other people should volunteer?
I think people should volunteer because it's a great day out, no matter what you are doing. I enjoy every minute of it.
What is the best event you’ve ever volunteered at and why?
I think the best event has to be London Marathon hands down! I absolutely love London, and being there on the day, watching from the sidelines soaking in the amazing atmosphere, beats watching it on TV. I have volunteered for London Marathon twice now and I have had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people. It can get emotional at times but in a good way. I think it is just because it is a huge event and running that is such an achievement. I see some of the runners spot their family in the crowd and that always makes me smile.
Have you got any funny volunteering stories?
I once saw someone dressed as a toilet and that made me laugh!
Why not volunteer at an event for MS-UK? Whether you want to work in the office, behind the scenes, or help out at a national event like the Royal Parks Half Marathon, then email Jenny to find out more.