Join Jo's “incredibly supportive” MS community

A FORMER teacher who got her “sense of purpose” back after getting involved with a multiple sclerosis group following her diagnosis is encouraging others to discover the benefits of volunteering.
Jo MasonJo Mason
Jo Mason

Mum of two Jo Mason from Rotherham had to give up teaching due to her diagnosis of MS – a chronic disease of the central nervous system.

The 42-year-old is now volunteer group coordinator of the MS Society’s Sheffield and Rotherham group and wants others to join their “incredibly supportive” community.

Jo found out she had MS in 2021.

She’d had investigations for vestibular migraines but her health went downhill over the summer.

In September she started the new school term and thought she was exhausted after the summer holidays.

But on the first day back, she could barely walk or talk, and never returned to work.

She later found out it was a huge MS relapse and, after tests, was officially diagnosed in November.

Jo's symptoms include fatigue, numbness and weakness, stabbing pains, vision problems and cognitive and memory difficulties.

She contacted her local MS Society group for support but it had been disbanded because of Covid, so when the volunteer group coordinator role came up, decided to apply.

“It’s wonderful to feel I’m doing something worthwhile,” Jo said.

“It’s incredibly supportive and I volunteer when I can, but I can also put myself, my family and my MS first so there’s no pressure if I’m having a bad day.

“Volunteering has given me back the sense of purpose I lost when I had to leave my career.

“It’s given me a community to be part of.

“It’s given me the opportunity to keep making a difference.

“Everyone talks about being kinder and helping others – this is exactly a way you can do it in however much time you can give.”

A group relaunch event is planned for this Saturday, October 14 at Rotherham Leisure Complex for anyone local living with MS, as well as their family and carers, to find out more about the group and the support and services it offers.

When Jo took on her role one of the first things that happened was getting a seated exercise class going again.

“There were tears and emotion with people meeting friends again,” she said.

“But we also saw how people’s MS had declined during Covid.

“Now people are back to exercising, we’re looking at buying new weights as their strength has improved so much.”

The seated exercise classes take place on Wednesdays at Rotherham Leisure Complex and Fridays at the Burton Street Foundation in Sheffield.

Sally Snowball, MS Society's regional development officer, said: “Jo is really helping the MS community re-connect again after a quiet few years for MS Society Sheffield and Rotherham.

“She’s only relatively recently diagnosed with MS, but I’ve seen how passionate she is about bringing people together who have a shared understanding of MS, so that no-one needs to feel alone.”

The group's re-launch event is free but tickets must be booked.

Anyone in interested volunteering should email [email protected].

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