Health, disability & well-being

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000

Submitted by: McInroy & wood

Description

About Shift.ms

Shift.ms, a web-based community for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), launched in 2009 following George Pepper’s diagnosis with MS at 22. George struggled to find people like him, despite doctors telling him his age of diagnosis was very common.

A diagnosis of MS leaves people isolated and scared. Shift.ms, a Leeds-based charity, offers a safe space where people with MS (MSers) can go for answers and support each other. Evidence from National Voices has shown that peer support reduces isolation. On www.shift.ms 58% report reduced isolation as a benefit of use.

“It’s cool to see a lot of different people with the same thing - you feel much less isolated, you realise other people are doing amazing things and it’s not like life ends now” Polly, MSer

The community has 11,500 members and the website receives 25,000 visitors a month, but there is one thing missing:

“Is there some way to find people on a map? Might be nice to meet up with people local.” Rosie, MSer

Map.ms project

Our members want a way to visualise the Shift.ms community. We had a map on our original website, users loved it - but when upgrading the site we couldn’t afford to rebuild it. Map.ms will pull together all the services offered by Shift.ms, allowing MSers to see that they are not living with MS alone. An independent evaluation of Shift.ms showed that although members recieve a great deal of support online, they would also like to meet face-to-face.

Map.ms will allow MSers to quickly find people like them, near where they live, building a deeper sense of community. By plotting the location of Shift.ms members, meet ups and location-specific groups, Map.ms will put the MS community, literally, on the map. Shift.ms takes online safety extremely seriously and has a clear set of guidelines to ensure people do not reveal their home address.

Why should people care?

There is no cure for MS. It is a chronic neurological disease. In the UK 5,000 people are diagnosed a year and 107,000 live with MS. Most people are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s, just when we are all making key life decisions about relationships, family, lifestyle and careers. A diagnosis of MS brings with it huge uncertainty, leaving people feeling overwhelmed and isolated, socially and emotionally.

“It was the worst thing to hear. I went back to work after the appointment and I was breaking down in tears. It completely broke me. I was a complete emotional wreck.” Vraj, MSer

Half of MSers experience depression, anxiety and stress, but only 50% of MSers who need mental health support receive it. MSers also face serious financial worries because less than 30% are employed five years after diagnosis. Shift.ms exists to help MSers overcome the difficulties of diagnosis and make positive, independent choices so they can get on with their lives. Shift.ms knows it‘s crucial to have the right support - a more networked community can help deliver this.

“One thing that really worried me was getting depressed. I was lucky, I was referred quickly to Shift.ms but I could imagine the isolation and the denial really affecting me. Having Shift.ms made a massive difference to accepting my MS.” Cathy, MSer

Shift.ms believes MS doesn’t mean giving up on ambitions, just rethinking how to achieve them.

Why do we need your help?

There is a real need for Map.ms - a way to link all aspects of the Shift.ms service and create a face-to-face way for MSers to get support from their online community.

“The power of maps is their ability to change behaviour in a positive way. By making things visual, in a way that people can understand and engage with, people feel less isolated” Rob Coomber, Senior Designer at Applied Wayfinding

£10,000 from Aviva would mean Shift.ms could design and develop Map.ms, make it as informative, interactive and accessible as possible and so reduce the isolation felt by people with MS. But we need your help, we need your vote!

Shift.ms

Location: Leeds

Shift.ms provides essential support for people with multiple sclerosis. Feeling part of a physical community and sharing experiences with people like you helps tackle feelings of isolation and fear. Those dealing with this unpredictable and often debilitating condition do not need to do it alone.
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