World MS Day is officially marked on 30 May every year. It brings the global MS community together to share stories, raise awareness and campaign with everyone affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).
The 2020-2022 World MS Day theme is ‘connections’. MS Connections is all about building community connection, self-connection and connections to quality care. The campaign is about challenging social barriers that leave people affected by MS feeling lonely and socially isolated.
Over the last year MS-UK has been looking at the issue of loneliness and isolation within the MS community and during Loneliness Awareness week (15 – 19 June) we will be publishing our report that shares our insights from listening to personal experiences within the MS community. This report will set our learning and the positive action that MS-UK will be taking and how communities and organisations can support this work.
We have also recently become members of the Connection Coalition which has been founded by the Jo Cox Foundation alongside Mind, The British Red Cross, Facebook, Age UK, Nesta, NationBuilder and The Cares Family. These members are convening this cross-sector coalition to coordinate, amplify and inspire efforts to reinforce meaningful connections. Their hope is that in doing so, they can mitigate the impact of isolation through the COVID-19 crisis and harness the power of strong relationships and connections for the future.
We know that since the start of COVID-19, many people are supporting their neighbours and communities in creative and inspiring ways. However, for some, the challenge of reaching out for support will be difficult, their mental health may be impacted and the local groups and activities they were accessing may not be happening now. It is therefore even more important that people know where to turn and how to get the support they need.
At MS-UK all of our national services are still operational and this includes the MS-UK Helpline, MS-UK Counselling and our New Pathways magazine. As Head of Services at MS-UK, I am proud that despite the challenges we have all been presented with we can still support and empower people living with multiple sclerosis to live healthier and happier lives.
If you would like to stay up to date with our work or want a copy of our report on Loneliness and Isolation please sign up to our newsletter here www.ms-uk.org/ms-uk-newsletters.