Vital Support For MND
by David Setters
The West Sussex North branch of the MND Association is run by a small team of enthusiastic volunteers who aim to support the care of local people living with Motor Neurone Disease and to raise funds to support research.
MND is a progressive neurological disease which currently has no cure. It takes away your ability to use your arms, walk, talk, swallow and, ultimately, to breathe. A third of individuals diagnosed pass away within a year and 50% within two years and while the median age of onset is in the mid 50s, it also affects younger people often with growing families.
The West Sussex North branch of the MND Association is always seeking new recruits to help in the fight against the disease – however much (or little) time they are able to offer! At the heart of what the branch does for local families hit by this devastating condition is its Association Visitors. Full training is offered for these highly rewarding roles for individuals wishing to help families at a very difficult time in their lives.
Chris Sheridan is Vice Chair of the branch as well as an Association Visitor. “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.”
Another current requirement is for a volunteer to keep the branch’s WordPress website updated which might take up to a couple of hours per month.
Very importantly, however, the branch is also keen to build a roster of people to call on just once or twice in the year. For example, to help out with teas at the branch socials and fundraising events, with a collection at a local supermarket or undertaking a challenge such as a run or cycle ride.
Local companies are also invited to support the branch. Perhaps by sponsoring a branch event or organising activities for the office, such as a dress down day, a quiz night or a cake bake. And others might offer their expertise, for example, by printing promotional flyers or raffle tickets or simply by donating raffle prizes for events.
“While the ice bucket challenge and the film The Theory of Everything did much to raise general awareness of this insidious disease, there is a lot more to do to help affected families and to find a cure,” says branch chair, Julie Unsted. “If more people in the local community can get behind us, simply by offering a few hours of their time here and there, we will move closer to our aim of a world free from MND.”