"A positive approach to multiple sclerosis" …that was the headline on the very first issue of our newsletter Open Door. As the MS Trust marks its 21st year we’re looking back at how our information service has developed in response to changing needs.
When the MS Trust was set up (initially as the MS Research Trust) in 1993, information was sparse. People were frequently told “You’ve got MS, learn to live with it”. What did exist was often too simplistic or too technical and more likely to frighten than to inform.
One of the first projects of the new charity was an information pack to provide balanced, realistic answers to the questions people had and to raise awareness of what was available to help people manage their symptoms and live their lives with MS.
In 1998 the MS Trust appointed its first Information Officer. Originally her role was mainly to support health professionals, particularly the first of the MS nurses who were starting to be appointed around the country. However, calls from people with MS quickly grew and the team began to expand.
The number of calls we receive has grown greatly. In 2001 there were 459 enquiries, half of which were from people affected by MS. In 2013 we received 2,714, with more than 80 per cent coming from people with MS or their family or friends.
The variety of questions reflects the wide range of issues that can affect someone living with MS – whether it’s from someone newly diagnosed and unsure where to turn next, or someone asking about treatments to manage their symptoms, to something more unusual such as whether having a tattoo might affect MS. Even when a topic appears several times, the response is rarely exactly the same as we try to match information to the caller’s particular needs and situation.
21 years on, the need for reliable, evidence-based information remains as strong as ever. People increasingly expect information to be available to help them make informed decisions about how they live their lives with MS. Whether through our website, our range of publications or through the personal enquiry service, the MS Trust continues to offer help in finding the information people need to live their lives.
Thank you very much for helping us to provide this vital service.