In Impact Stories, Physical & mental health, wellbeing & safety

Project: Core cost funding to support people living with Multiple Sclerosis

Grant: £9,600

Fund: Bucks Coronavirus Stabilisation Fund

The Chilterns MS Centre are a charity providing; treatment, tools, knowledge and a community of health professionals and peers to empower people living with Multiple Sclerosis. Each month, the charity delivers 765 hours of therapy, classes and advice to almost 500 members.

Like countless other charities, the pandemic hit the centre hard. But through an immense amount of perseverance, hard work, and dedication, they managed to provide an incredible service network to all of their service users despite temporarily closing their centre. The charity provided a comprehensive remote support package for their users, which included a huge variety of services including:

  • Telephone welfare checks
  • Group physiotherapy, yoga and exercise classes on Zoom
  • Placing recorded classes
  • Social groups on Zoom offering bingo, quizzes, art sessions and virtual coffee mornings
  • Expanding their ‘Buddy Scheme’
  • Plus much more

The charity began seeking funding to support its recovery through 2021. The importance of core cost funding cannot be understated, as so many charities throughout Buckinghamshire had their cash reserves decimated as they struggled to survive the pandemic with an understandable drop in funding. Charities desperately need core cost funding as, without it, they would cease operations leaving many of their service users in desperate situations.

With support from Heart of Bucks, the charity paid for all of their utility bills from March to July, just as many of their service users were beginning to return to the centre.

Jane’s Story

Each month, the charity supported an increasing number of people as they expanded their service. Over the grant period, over 300 people benefited from the treatment offered by the centre. One of which was a woman living with Multiple Sclerosis called Jane. Her first episode left her paralysed from the waist down, and unable to walk or do anything for herself, she was at her most vulnerable. This is where the Chilterns MS Centre came in and supported her with oxygen therapy to help her manage her fatigue. She explained just how important the centre is and the role it plays in her life:

“I have this for life and that can feel oppressing. But I just want to concentrate on what I can do day to day to be able to live independently and work for as long as possible. I’m lucky because my work is really supportive of my situation. I don’t suffer with fatigue too much and I think this is because they let me take time away to have my oxygen treatment every week at the Centre. Sadly the NHS don’t have long term care available for people with MS and the Centre fills that gap. It’s a brilliant place to go and to be part of. It’s reassuring to be around people who know exactly what you are going through. It makes you feel like you’re not alone. The MS Centre is so amazing for putting people in touch with other people and I’ve met lots of friends there.

As Multiple Sclerosis became part of my life, I found I really valued my time at the Centre. It was time for me to speak to other people with MS. It’s nice to get other people’s ideas about how they manage their fatigue and pain. It’s nice to have the time that is solely about MS. In the rest of my life, I quite like that don’t talk about my MS that much and it’s not at the forefront of my mind. I’ve been able to get to a place where it’s part of me but doesn’t take over me. Joining the Centre has really saved my life since I’ve been diagnosed. I can see it would be easy to become overwhelmed, but having access to the Centre has helped me stay in control.”

Jane using the oxygen chamber

Being able to heat and light the building allowed the centre to support 40 people a month in similar situations to Jane with Oxygen therapy who can go on and live a more fulfilling and active life.

The Chilterns MS Centre is undoubtedly changing the lives of those that they support and their families and will continue to do so for years to come.

If you’d like to read more about the work of the Chilterns MS Centre, please click here. If you’d like to read any more of our Impact Stories, please visit our website.