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09 July 2020

“The confidence and connectivity I have gained from my Circle has been invaluable.”

Rowan, from our Sussex Circle, shares her thoughts on how important her Circle is to her.

What is an Overcoming MS Circle?

Overcoming MS Circles are a great way to meet others following the Overcoming MS Program, they are open to all and provide a wonderful, positive support network among the Overcoming MS community.

Since beginning my Overcoming MS journey in December 2018, I have learned so much about myself, Overcoming MS and the importance of both supporting others and of being supported. So, when I joined the Sussex Circle, I felt I had found a group of people who truly understood, were  supportive and equally positive. It was a breath of fresh air. 

What happens at meet ups?

I was nervous attending my first meet up: a potluck lunch, everyone bringing one dish to share, at our Ambassador’s (Circle organiser) home. When I arrived, it was really relaxed and everyone was genuinely welcoming and happy to greet a new face, which put me at ease straight away.

One thing that struck me was how non-judgemental everyone was: we were all in this together. Everyone was at different stages in their Overcoming MS journey, and I found the group a real safe space to share ideas and discuss any issues we had. 

There were about 10 of us: a few regulars and a few toe dippers, but I was the only newbie that time. We ranged from mid twenties (me) to retirement age, with everyone in between. There were a mix of partners and OMSers, and of women and men. We even had a baby joining us, so they really are suitable for everyone!

It can be an incredibly positive experience to be a relative, as it can help them to better understand this amazing community, and to feel positivity in the changes advocated by Overcoming MS. Relatives do not need to be following Overcoming MS to come along, and Circle meet ups can offer a support network for those coming on this journey with you, too. 

Thanks to Barbara Stephenson for volunteering her time and space

The next meet up I attended was at the house of one of the members, where we shared a beautiful yoga and meditation session, followed by a potluck lunch. They are such a great way to learn new Overcoming MS recipes and to share some delicious food together. 

The meetings normally last about 3 hours and are very relaxed. Examples of other meet ups include an afternoon tea in a member’s garden, and an Overcoming MS friendly meal at an Asian restaurant. We have attended an Overcoming MS compliant cooking lesson at the local cooking school, taught by our ambassador, and mentioned a sushi workshop for sometime in the future. 

I don’t drive, and as the meet ups happen all over the county, members are always very generous with lift sharing. Plus it gives you extra time to have a catch up!

All Circles are different, but all share the Overcoming MS philosophies. 

Support whenever you need it

The group also communicates via email, but mostly through a WhatsApp group, where you will find support 24/7, if you’re having a wobble or have some positive news to share. It has helped me to feel more deeply connected to the Overcoming MS community, and is a wonderful way to connect if you can’t wait for the next meet up!

During lockdown, we have managed a couple of Zoom meet ups, which have been a really successful way to touch base and reinforce the importance of coming together, especially when so much has changed around us. 

I have also found Overcoming MS communities on Facebook and through the Overcoming MS website extremely helpful, where again, you will find no judgement, just encouragement and support. These have been great while I was finding my feet and to keep up to date with new information and connectivity with the community and the program. 

If you are struggling with any aspect of Overcoming MS, or are a seasoned veteran with knowledge and support to impart, please please join a Circle via the Live Well Hub, or ask Overcoming MS about setting one up in your area. The support, confidence and connectivity I have gained from my Circle has been invaluable, and I can’t recommend Circles enough.