A charity which offers help and advice to people affected by the chronic neurological condition multiple sclerosis has opened a weekly drop-in centre on Moreton Hall.
The Bury St Edmunds branch of the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society is now offering people affected by the condition the chance to meet with a trained volunteer at the Disability Resource Centre in Bunting Road, opposite Matalan.
Operating from 11am-1pm on Wednesdays, it is thought to be the charity’s first drop-in centre in Suffolk.
“It’s a confidential service, available – not only for people with multiple sclerosis – but also for family, friends and loved ones who might want to discuss any issue with ourselves,” said Karl Smith, society secretary who was diagnosed with MS in 1994.
As well as offering support and advice by signposting people to useful resources and agencies, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau for those with financial concerns, he said it was nice to be able to put things into perspective for anyone scared by the public’s often negative perception of the condition.
“There’s lots of medical advice around but sometimes when your diagnosed, and I look back on myself in the mid- 90s, I wanted to speak to someone who had it and someone who could tell me something positive, so that’s what we’re trying to do put together here,” said the 49-year-old.
“Having MS is not the end, it’s just different,” he added.
Fellow volunteer Raquel Beller had a frightful experience when she was diagnosed in 1998.
“I just woke up one morning and had double vision and couldn’t walk, and I was pregnant at the time,” she said.
The 41-year-old from Brandon now helps others to manage the condition.
Allison Humphreys, 40, from Moreton Hall, was diagnosed with MS in 2006. She said the centre was a great resource for people with MS.
She said:“You can walk around town and you don’t know who’s got what. What you see on the outside has nothing to do with what’s going on on the inside. You wouldn’t have a clue. So, I think this is a really good idea.”
Beverley Young, 56, also from Moreton Hall, was diagnosed in 1996 and said, for her, the condition, which affects people in varied ways, causes her to limp.
She is supportive of the centre and keen to get people involved in its Cake Break next month, details of which will be posted at www.facebook.com/MsDropInCentre