It’s estimated that there are around 130,000 people in the UK living with MS, plus a further million people with a close connection to MS. By comparison, our total MS Society community of supporters (volunteers, campaigners, fundraisers, advisers, donors, etc) is around 180,000.
So, there’s a lot of opportunity for us to increase our reach. We know from our database, from the UK MS Register, and from our Volunteer Survey in 2019 that certain groups of people in our community are typically under-represented, and don’t currently engage with us. This is reinforced by what we hear more informally, across our volunteers and from our local groups when they’re trying to recruit new service users or volunteers.
One of our key aims is therefore to find new ways to connect, engage and be inclusive, valuing diversity and reaching out to different groups. Our Volunteering and Policy & Evidence teams are working on a project to understand why certain groups are under-represented in our community and amongst our volunteers, so we can work to address these issues.
We’ve identified three key groups who are under-represented and who we’d like to reach out to through this new research. These are:
Younger people (ideally aged 18-30 or up to 40)
People from Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds
People living with advanced MS
How can I help?
We’re running some focus groups at the end of April, to connect with people from the above groups who do not have any ongoing engagement with the MS Society. We want to understand the challenges they currently face in their MS journeys, and what prevents them from engaging with us.
And this is where you come in. Could you use your networks (and/or those of your group, if you’re a group volunteer) to share some information with anyone who is not in touch with the MS Society who you think might be interested in joining one of these focus groups, or who might know someone who would be? To make it easy, we’ve created some text which you can just cut and paste into an email, or post on social media. You can find this here.
So that we have time to invite people to the focus groups at the end of April, please help us to get the message out by Monday 19 April if you can.
Many thanks in advance for your help. If you have any questions, please contact the Volunteering Team at [email protected].