I want you to meet Gurdeep, and his peer support friend Matt.
Late in 2019, Gurdeep (pictured right) from Melbourne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Thanks to MS Connect, just one week after his diagnosis, Gurdeep was linked in with MS Peer Support. He was connected with Matt, an MS Peer Support Volunteer who has lived with the challenges of multiple sclerosis for 17 years.
Matt lives in NSW, but each week they connect by phone and talk about the different challenges Gurdeep is experiencing - from his MS symptoms to navigating the NDIS or just having a chat.
"MS Peer Support is invaluable. Every week, I look forward to my chat with Matt. The power of that one-to-one relationship, the trust we've built, has really helped me," says Gurdeep.
Matt has been providing MS Peer Support for over four years and is also an MS Ambassador. He facilitates a monthly Telegroup for men with MS living in NSW, ACT, Victoria and Tasmania, as well as providing one to one support. Matt also mentors other MS Peer Support Volunteers.
“It’s a great opportunity to share my own experiences and to understand the MS challenges that others have to live with - no two MS journeys are the same!” says Matt.
“As an invisible disease, some might say ‘I’m not faking being sick, I’m faking being well’. Often, it’s hard for others to know the impact MS has - that’s why MS Peer Support is so important.”
Matt’s expertise comes from his own experience with multiple sclerosis. He was diagnosed in 2003, newly married and building his career and family.
“This kind of one to one peer support wasn’t available when I was diagnosed. I only got an information pack. Over the 17 years since my diagnosis, the availability of information, webinars and technology has significantly increased,” Matt says.
“I find it personally rewarding to give back to others also living with the challenges of MS. I think it could be a lonely place without that support.”
Matt adds, “I would encourage anyone living with the challenges of MS to get involved with the MS Peer Support program and to connect with someone who is going through a similar experience. Fundraising is critical to maintain that support - especially in making sure those who are geographically or socially isolated can feel supported.”
"Without Matt, I wouldn’t have known the way forward," says Gurdeep.
It’s YOUR support that helps ensure vital services like these can continue to be provided, ensuring no one faces MS alone!