Some MS Society branches have found great ways of working with local therapy centres to make sure people affected by MS get the support they need.
MS therapy centres offer services like exercise, physiotherapy, counselling and dietary advice. Many people are members of both the MS Society and their local MS therapy centre.
How to do it
Rotherham and Sheffield Branch
Rotherham and Sheffield had nowhere to hold meetings, so asked if they could use the local therapy centre premises. The answer was yes. The branch refurbished the centre in return for meeting there rent-free for five years. They can also use all the centre facilities for a very small fee, and receive four days of admin support per month.
According to branch chair John Bettles, things were a bit frosty at first. It was 'people throwing stones and nobody talking'.
But over time the two groups have developed a strong relationship. The first step was opening up branch meetings to therapy centre members. Now the branch and therapy centre run fundraisers together and have big plans for joint activities in future.
The relationship has given local people affected by MS access to far more facilities and support than before. It's a partnership that works.
Exeter Branch rents a room in the local MS therapy centre, where it funds a phone line, computers and internet access. It also pays the centre to run services like therapies and Citizen's Advice Bureau sessions.The therapy centre can then use the room and facilities when the branch isn't using them.
Top tips for working together
If you're inspired by the examples above, here's some advice from a local staff member:
- Get both committees on board from the beginning
- Be open-minded and think creatively
- Be patient and prepared to each 'give a bit'
- Use your local staff member for guidance and support
Share your tips
Are you doing anything to work more closely with the MS therapy centre in your area? Let us know so we can share tips with other branches on this website. Email Teamspirit or contact your local staff member.