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Join one of our Peer Pods!

Vicky.jpgMake new friends, gain extra support, and, sometimes, just have a good laugh – our Peer Support Service offers so many opportunities, says MS-UK’s Vicky Timmins

Hello, I’m Vicky, MS-UK’s Peer Support Co-Ordinator. I have worked at MS-UK for over seven years now. Early this year, we started to develop our new service and I recruited a wonderful team of volunteers that have helped me to create individual ‘Peer Pods’. Each Pod holds regular online sessions over Zoom that are open to anyone living with MS. We help each other by staying connected, socialising, and offering support.

I’d love for you to join in if you’d like to. Please allow me to introduce some of our Peer Support volunteers, who will tell you more about their Pods…

The Media Peer Pod

AmandaD Photo (002).jpgHosted by Amanda

The Media Peer Pod started during lockdown, at a time when we were all at home and many of us were spending a lot of time watching TV and films and listening to podcasts.

It occurred to me that we could talk about what we were watching and listening to and share recommendations with each other. The Peer Pod started out being exactly that – a fun chat and an exchange of tips. However, as we started to get to know each other, we started to talk about how we were. We all welcomed the opportunity to get to know and talk with people who know what we are going through and who listen, encourage, empathise and share information to improve each other's lives.  It has become so much more than a chat about TV, it has become a safe space where we can talk, share, listen, support and ask advice of each other. We have become friends and we care genuinely care about each other's welfare.

"It is a safe space where we can talk, share, listen, support and ask advice of each other"

I would encourage anyone to come along and join our sessions every Monday at 3pm. We will give you a warm welcome and you will see our smiling faces – we love it when new people join us, and we would love to hear your story – if you want to share it of course! There is no obligation to talk – you may prefer to simply listen. You don't even need to be a TV, film or book enthusiast. The key thing that brings us together is that we are all people with MS, who are all trying to live the best lives we can and enjoying feeling part of a group of like-minded people, who are there to cheer us on and support us when we need it.

Men’s Peer Pod

Hosted by Steve and Chris

SteveRphotoresized.jpgSteve – Our Men's Pod is about the experience of being a man dealing with MS. Chris and I try and create a safe and friendly environment where we can explore what it means to be male and have MS. People are heard, not judged, and sometimes have the balls to laugh at ourselves (if you excuse the pun).

At times we look at subjects that are difficult to talk about with others, and we also talk about our experiences and journeys. We know that we share the condition, but ChrisBphoto.jpghave different stories and journeys. Finally, like Vegas, what is said in the Pod stays in the Pod!

Chris – Our Pod has no fixed agenda. We have had many conversations on topics that we would not feel comfortable discussing with women present – I'm sure it's the same for the women. We meet once a week to chat properly, on a Monday at 2pm, but we can discuss anything any time on our Pod’s WhatsApp group.

 

Women’s Peer Pod

HelenP.jpgHosted by Helen and Christina

Our Pod is about anything to do with MS and life in general. As we are mature ladies, we both have a lot of MS and life experience.

I was a counsellor and Christina a nurse who also worked on the MS Society helpline, so between us we have accumulated a lot of insight into the emotional impact of MS, plus the physical, financial, and environmental effects.

As a group we encourage support among our members. However, we also discuss how we do things differently, as our MS challenges us with new symptoms. We always respect each other’s opinions, giving each other time to speak, and answer questions. We do have a lot of laughter, too, I think MSers often develop a dark humour, enabling them to laugh at some of the weird symptoms, when at times we may feel like crying into our glass of wine! However a person is feeling, they can safely discuss it in our Pod. We have boundaries, meaning we keep things within our pod or WhatsApp group. So out of the Pod, you can chat on What’s App with the same ladies, and it isn’t led like the Pod. 

"However a person is feeling, they can safely discuss it in our Pod"

ChristinaY.jpgAll participants have a safe place to speak freely about themselves. Sometimes we have topics or themes – popular discussions have been the impact of MS on relationships, sex, bladder and bowel issues – nothing is off limits with us girls. Other times we just chat about our how we are feeling, or what we’ve been doing. We might talk about our pets, children, grandchildren, and art. Sometimes people want to listen and not participate, this is just fine too. We’re are also doing a six-weekly book club within the women’s pod, and looking at other ideas, possibly around healthy eating, and ways to exercise with MS, 

If you are thinking of joining our pod, you will be made very welcome. You don’t have to come every week, and it’s fine to leave early if you’re tired or the subject doesn’t interest you. We’ve all been new to a group, so we understand how it is to be the new person in. I’m sure you will leave feeling like you have a new support network at your fingertips. 

So please give us a visit on Thursdays, alternate times of 6.45pm and 4.30pm. 

 

Keeping Connected Peer Pod

Sarah.jpgHosted by Sarah

Our Keeping Connected Pod is all about having a good old chat, sharing experiences, asking questions or just listening and getting to know everyone.

There’s been nearly 30 people dropping in from time to time. Mostly there are about six to eight of us, some regulars, some new, and we chat about all sorts of things. Last time we chatted about horse-riding for the disabled, the Great British Bake-off and Masterchef, experiences with disease modifying therapies and problems with pets. We’ve even had someone demonstrate his banjo playing which was great fun!

"I would say to anyone interested in taking part but feeling nervous to just treat it as an opportunity to drop in and see how it goes"

It’s fantastic to meet MSers from all over the country now – such is the power of online technology! I think we all benefit from getting to know new people and forming new friendships. We’ve also got a WhatssApp group for keeping in touch.

I would say to anyone interested in taking part but feeling nervous to just treat it as an opportunity to drop in and see how it goes. I like to keep it pretty casual and would never put you on the spot unless you indicate you want to say something. I do hope you’ll grab a tea, coffee or your favourite drink and join us anytime between 3pm and 4pm on alternate Tuesdays. Hope to see you there!

 

EmmaRphoto_0.jpgNewly Diagnosed Peer Pod

Emma and Lisa

Hey, I’m Emma and I run the Newly Diagnosed (or, as we like to call it ‘Ready to Talk’, because you may have been diagnosed for a while but just not been ready to talk before) Peer Pod with Lisa.

We meet every Monday from 7-8pm on Zoom. There’s is no commitment to join us for the whole hour or even every week. The discussions are led totally by you and LisaWphoto_0.jpganything you would like to ask or find out about. Think of it as your one-stop-shop for friendly chat and advice. Whether it be discussions about medication choices and lifestyle options, issues that only those who have MS would understand (usually bladder and bowel related) or just what you have been up to that week, for that hour we laugh and try to forget about the reality of living with a chronic illness.

Come and join in!

We’d love to welcome you. To find out more about Peer Pods, email peersupport@ms-uk.org

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