The MS Society is looking to tackle loneliness and concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic with a number of new online and telephone support services.
A charity has ramped up its online support services to help people with multiple sclerosis (MS), who are self-isolating at home amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The MS Society has made the move as face-to-face support for its beneficiaries has had to stop under social distancing measures.
Extra support includes the launch of Time to Chat, which offers virtual meetings for people with MS.
Among those with the condition who have been using these sessions is 53-year-old Rachael Tomlinson.
“I live on my own, so I’m really grateful these sessions exist,” she said.
“All I’d hoped for going into the first one was that it would take me away from everything going on around us at the moment, and it did. It’s a safe space where you can drop in for an hour and discuss all sorts in a group from all over the UK – we’ve talked about everything from pets to what we’re having for dinner!”
The extra support services launch also coincides with MS Awareness Week (20-26 April). This urges people to use social media to raise awareness of the condition using pictures and the hashtags #ThisisMS and #MSWeek.
It’s #MSWeek!— mssocietyuk (@mssocietyuk)
Most people have a vague idea what MS is. Some people know it causes problems with how we move. But what about how we feel? And the symptoms you can’t see?
Let’s raise awareness and show people the reality of life with MS: t.co/0hdN9GtpDB #ThisisMS pic.twitter.com/vEHtWyU4D8
It's #MSWeek!— mssocietyuk (@mssocietyuk) April 20, 2020
Most people have a vague idea what MS is. Some people know it causes problems with how we move. But what about how we feel? And the symptoms you can't see?
Let's raise awareness and show people the reality of life with MS: https://t.co/0hdN9GtpDB #ThisisMS pic.twitter.com/vEHtWyU4D8
In addition, the MS Society is hosting a series of weekly webinars with leading health professionals and academics, where people can ask questions. Up to 500 people are able to sign up and submit questions in advance.
Another is check-in phone call service Keep in Touch, which offers those isolated at home the chance to hear a friendly voice.
Ed Holloway, MS Society Director of Services, added: “More than 130,000 people live with MS in the UK, and we’re doing everything we can to be here for them at this time.
“Calls to our free MS Helpline have increased significantly and, since we can no longer meet face-to-face, we’ve been rapidly creating new services – including telephone befriending and virtual meet ups – so people can stay in touch from home. We will do everything we can to be here for people affected by MS so they never have to feel alone.”
Many people with MS are at an increased risk of infection or complications. While having MS itself does not increase their risk of getting Covid-19 thousands with the condition have been told by the government to protect themselves by staying at home.
A MS Society survey of more than 1,100 people with the condition found that 26 per cent are scared about what Covid-19 could mean for them. Around a third (34 per cent) said their mental health had suffered as a result of the crisis.