Welcome to 2021 at MDSC…

Well, what a year 2020 was for us all. None of us could have known back in January 2020 what was lying ahead of us or the challenges that were waiting on the horizon. At MDSC we were busily focused on our plans for expanding clinic hours and making more therapy sessions available to more people. We were getting ready for the start of our Lottery-funded project to grow our team and start building for the charity’s future.  

Navigating 2020 and the Pandemic 

We all know what came next. As lockdown (round 1!) hit, MDSC’s therapists quickly began providing a service we had never tried before – online and remote therapy sessions started taking place one-to-one, in small groups, and in drop-in classes. We started our MDSC Social Group on Facebook and began weekly coffee mornings and cocktail evenings. Our team developed and put into place measures to restart face to face therapies in August and adapted as the pandemic evolved with further measures in November and in January.   

As many of you will have seen in the little video we sent you before Christmas, as a result of all these activities, we were able to provide over 2,000 hours of therapies last year. The trustees and I are immensely proud of what everyone at MDSC has achieved, from staff and volunteers to service users and supporters. I think this quote sums up much of it for me:  

“I am absolutely thrilled with the online physio sessions run by specialist physios. It is an amazing service on hand during the unprecedented COVID pandemic. Many of us would have missed our time attending the clinic in Coventry but hey presto, with modern technology and the dedication of the superb specialist physio team, the service has continued and has been truly inspirational.  

It has been of great benefit not only to myself, but I am sure other patients have gained so much to stay in touch and to meet as a group meaning we do not feel isolated. The sessions have helped with my overall wellbeing; I look forward to the hour every week (I now take part in three sessions) that has been arranged by the dedicated team. The expertise relayed by the team has kept us on track with exercises to keep our muscles going. Thank you one and all. You all deserve a gold medal!” 
Jayne, service user 

We have all helped each other and I feel sure we will continue to develop this support as we move into 2021.  

With Thanks to Our Community 

We are grateful to every single one of you who has joined us on this strange journey, sharing your ideas, sending feedback, making things happen and to everyone who has tried out our online/remote sessions, joined us online for social chat and events, adapted to the new procedures in Centre and stayed abreast of the changes we have made, and continue to make, as the pandemic evolves.  Your many messages of thanks and support over the past 10 months has been gratefully received by all of the team and provided much needed encouragement and motivation through these challenging times.  

Expanding Services and Support  

And through all this, we have continued with plans to develop the charity and increase the support available for service users. We’re thrilled to have had Siobhan Crowton join our team in November for 4 days per week to enable us to significantly increase the physio hours and support we offer and to welcome back Chandni Patel from maternity this January.   

Behind the scenes, we have had several new faces join the team in 2020 with Sarah Ann Moore coming on board as Executive Director to lead our management team which includes Elizabeth Stickney and Lola Harper in their new roles as Clinical and Engagement & Communications Managers, respectively, and Natasha Sweet, Head of Fundraising whom many of you already know.   

In addition to supporting our services and team as well as navigating the pandemic, our management team will be focusing on plans to increase our therapy offering in 2021, starting with re-opening our East Midlands satellite clinic as soon as possible, and launching a third satellite in the Black Country, later this year.   I am very much looking forward to the opportunity to introduce our new team members to you during our upcoming Open Day (more below).  In the meantime, you can read more about them here. 

Support for MDSC and Impact on Funding 

Covid-19 has made 2020 a tricky year for many charities, and we are not alone in experiencing a downturn in events income and fundraising. We have been encouraged by the support we have received from service users, family and friends in our circle, who have been generous in giving donations, time, skills and support.  

With the pandemic ongoing and its full effect yet to be seen, we cannot know how this will affect funding for our charity. Please know that, whatever you give and however you give it, we very much appreciate any support you can provide to help ensure a safe and secure future for MDSC.   

Beyond financial support, giving us your feedback via the annual MDSC & Me service user survey (recently released) and taking part in events like our Annual Open Day are a few of the many non-financial ways you can support the Centre as is connecting with us here on our website and on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Linkedin

Your feedback and participation not only help us to develop the services you need, but they also help to show how our services impact your lives and the value you place on our support. 

With funding being increasingly directed to charities and organisations who have more direct and meaningful impact, your engagement and support of MDSC is more critical than ever.     

Coming Up in 2021 

I hope you will take the opportunity to meet our new team and connect with our whole team at our forthcoming Virtual Open Day on Saturday 27th February

The day will be a chance to try out some of our short taster sessions for therapies online, catch up on all that is going on at MDSC and also meet other service users in our virtual sessions with a range of topics.

We’re excited and pleased to share that we will be joined by guest speakers Martyn Sibley, co-founder of Disability Horizons and Purple Goat Agency, and Rob Burley, Director of Care Campaigns and Support at MDUK. 

Beyond the Open Day, there’s lots more to look forward to in 2021.  Lola is working on resuming our newsletter which is slated for release in March 2021 and Elizabeth and the team on resuming hydrotherapy and a full schedule of therapies when circumstances permit.   

Recently we began partnering with our friends at Limitless Travel on their virtual travel tours and later this year some of us hope to take part in a new adrenaline-fuelled challenge; come and join us, the more the merrier! Alongside this our dedicated supporters are busy planning golf days and other exciting events from April onward.  

Event dates are subject to change of course, but these are just some of the things our team and supporters are hard at work on behind the scenes so keep an eye out for more details! 

As I look ahead to what 2021 will bring, I can feel certain of one thing at least, the MDSC will continue to be there for us all, thanks to the involvement of many caring and committed people.  

Please take care and stay well. 

 All the best, 

Ruth Hereford

**We are always happy to hear from you with suggestions, feedback or to chat about any aspect of the charity so please do email me at ruth@mdsupportcentre.org or feedback@mdsupportcentre.org