The West Sussex North branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association is currently seeking new volunteers to join its team of Association Visitors.
The supportive role involves visiting people living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) to provide them with information, advice, support and a friendly face.
Branch manager Julie Unsted explained: “We would love to hear from people living in or near Horsham, Horley, Crawley, East Grinstead, Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill and surrounding villages who can help us continue to provide this crucial service, ensuring that those living with MND don’t have to face it alone.
“Volunteers taking up this role really can make a meaningful difference, not just to the life of the person living with MND, but also their wider family.
“Following diagnosis, many people feel isolated and at a loss as to where to turn,” she added.
“The Association Visitor provides stability by acting as the all important link between the family and the appropriate health and social care professionals. It can, of course, be a challenging and emotional role but it can also be extremely rewarding helping to solve the often complex issues people living with MND face.”
The branch is a voluntary group which raises funds for and awareness of MND and supports people living with the terminal condition, along with their carers.
MND is a progressive terminal neurological condition which attacks the motor neurones, or nerves, in the brain and spinal cord which means messages gradually stop reaching muscles which leads to weakness and wasting. It affects the person’s ability to walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe.
The progression and presentation of symptoms do not happen in the same way or in the same order for everyone. Around half of those diagnosed with the disease pass away within two years, although others have longer prognoses. There is currently no cure for MND.
Staplefield resident Ron Stevenson, who was diagnosed in 2010 explains the hugely important role that his Association Visitor, Chris Sheridan, has played for him and his family.
“Chris has been with us every step of the way. She encourages us to plan ahead and her advice is always carefully considered,” he said.
“We trust her judgement implicitly. She has guided us to the people and agencies that we needed as our situation evolved.
“Having her friendly shoulder to lean on has allowed us to find that quality of life that can still be there despite the problems.”
“Chris has also ensured that my wife Gill’s needs are addressed and that she is fully aware that she must take care of herself, and not fall into the trap of neglecting her own health,” he continued.
“This was never more evident than last year when Gill was rushed into hospital for an emergency brain operation and spent time in intensive care afterwards. Chris was there for us throughout, selflessly giving her time and keeping an eye on us throughout the recovery and recuperation period. What a star she is, and how lucky are we?!”
Chris herself is vice chair of the branch as well as an Association Visitor.
She explains that the role involves a time commitment of around two to four hours per week with full training given via the national office of the MND Association.
“It is a vital, challenging and rewarding role providing volunteers with benefits such as self-development and the opportunity to make a difference in peoples’ lives,” she said.
“I meet some amazing people and never cease to be in awe of their determination. It is inspirational and puts life into perspective.”
The MND Association is organising its next Association Visitor Training Course in London from Friday November 4 to Sunday November 6 with a follow up day on Wednesday December 14.
For more information please visit the MND Association website at www.mandassociation.org or for an informal chat please contact Chris Sheridan on firstname.lastname@example.org /phone – 01444 245486 or Julie Unsted on email@example.com