Joining the MND Association was the best thing I have ever done - not just for the selfish reasons of needing to be involved but also because of the people I have met and come to know, both volunteers, staff and people living with MND.
Alun Owen - Association Visitor
My partner was diagnosed with MND in February 2001 and following his death in September of that year I knew I needed to be involved in the Association in some way.
I had no idea of what I would do to help or how I would contribute to the local branch, or indeed much about any aspect of supporting people living with MND, but it was the only activity I could think of doing. My involvement commenced slowly at first, attending meetings and rattling tins in the street when required and also attending the North West conference in Warrington in 2002. Members of the branch committee were also there and I was invited to travel with them to the National Conference in September. Attending that conference was when I realised that being an active member of the Association was the most important thing to help me manage my bereavement.
I was nominated to be the branch secretary at the AGM the following year, a role I still hold, and even had a turn at being the chairman for one year. My proudest moment with the Association however, was when I received my certificate for passing the association visitor (AV) course. My picture is on the front of the recruitment leaflet and I think the thrill shows in my face. I can’t describe how I felt when I was accepted for the training, let alone my feelings when I was presented with that certificate!
I never made a decision to stay with the Association for any specific length of time but it is the one thing that has helped me to survive the last eight years and so I am still hugely involved with the Association as branch secretary, branch contact, AV and MND Connect volunteer.
As part of my responsibilities, I organise the committee and open meetings for the branch and make initial contact with people new to the organisation. Along with my colleagues, I also help to organise and run fundraising events and plan how to spend the money we have raised on supporting our members who are living with MND.
As an MND Connect volunteer, I am allocated evenings as part of a rota to staff the helpline. Answering my first ‘solo’ call was extremely stressful but since then I have grown in confidence, supported by the National Office MND Connect team who are there to guide you and provide feedback on your responses to calls.
Joining the MND Association was the best thing I have ever done - not just for the selfish reasons of needing to be involved but also because of the people I have met and come to know, both volunteers, staff and people living with MND. Attending conferences and training events is a genuinely lovely and positive experience and quite addictive. Not an experience I am ready to give up!