The Social Side at the Sussex MS Centre
There are many reasons why people living with long-term neurological conditions can suffer from loneliness and isolation. Often people feel self conscious and lack the confidence to go out into the wider community, or feel their special needs will not be met. Sometimes they don’t want to make demands on their friends or carers, and it’s simply easier to stay at home. It can lead to severe depression as well as other health risks. We are trying many ways of countering this and respond to any suggestions made by our members.
There is always a member of staff at the Centre, and usually a couple of volunteers as well. We have a small kitchen and run coffee mornings so that members and carers can sit and chat over refreshments. This provides a perfect platform for people to share their experiences, and use their knowledge and skills to help others. Most of our members stop off for a cup of tea or coffee when they come in for a treatment or a class. There is also an area where people can sit and talk more privately if they wish. Many lasting friendships have been built, and a real sense of community now exists.
Monthly Out of Hours Events
Many people feel excluded from normal leisure activities, so we decided to put on our own events. We now hold monthly out of hours socials and each one has a different theme.
We run a bar at the Centre and often put on nights with dinner, such as pub quiz and fish and chips, or beer tasting and curry nights. We’ve had plenty of music nights and run an annual comedy gig with great comedians from Brighton.
We can accommodate up to 50 people at these events and they are usually full. Staff, members and volunteers do all the catering to keep costs affordable. The Centre offers warm, comfortable and well equipped accommodation, so everyone knows that their special needs are catered for.
We used to have our Christmas dinner elsewhere, but found the prices excluded many people, and that their claims to be accessible were not always accurate. So now we do it ourselves. We can cater for up to 70 people and each year we hire tables and extra crockery and hold a sit down meal. Between us we manage all the catering and there is always a waiting list for places.
Volunteers and Therapists Party
The Centre would not be able to function without the army of volunteers to come in to cover reception, operate the oxygen chamber, and get involved in fund raising events. All our therapists charge less than half their normal fee when giving treatments. Every year the staff thank them for all their hard work by putting on a party, offering a chance for them to relax and be looked after for a change!