We know that for over 500 people with multiple sclerosis (MS), the Chilterns MS Centre is more than just a place to receive expert clinical treatment to improve their physical health. It is a safe, relaxed place to socialise, to try new things, build confidence and to make friends who truly understand just how tough it is living with MS. It is their lifeline, to help them maintain their sense of purpose, independence and live a full life.
The outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus is the biggest threat to our organisation in its 35-year history. Many of our income streams have come to a complete stop due to social distancing, leaving the charity in a funding crisis.
With almost all of our events and fundraising activities cancelled or postponed, up to 40% of our income is at risk, and this could get worse if the situation continues into the Autumn. Our popular Run Prestwood event normally brings in £16k and whilst we are trying to reschedule there is no guarantee we can hold the event this year. Given the national lockdown many of our supporters have also had to cancel their fundraising activities too. We are already feeling the effect of reduced income, and have taken defensive action, but this does mean a reduction in care provision right now. Ultimately, if we cannot bridge the gap we may have to drastically reduce how we operate in the future. This would put hundreds of people affected by MS across Bucks, Beds, and Herts at risk of having no regular treatment or support, as the NHS cannot provide this on an ongoing basis.
Andy Graham COO
The current situation means we are now offering a virtual service by phone, email and online. Whilst we are doing what we can to reduce costs, including furloughing half our staff, we still need a level of income to maintain our services and secure our future. It costs £1.2million a year to fund the Centre. Less than 7% of this comes from NHS funding, which is also at risk, therefore we rely heavily on our fundraising activities to keep the charity running. Without them, the Centre is in danger of closing.
Whilst the way we offer support has had to change, our ethos hasn’t. We are still a charity that exists to empower and support people with MS. Our members need us now more than ever. Members like Julie and David. Julie has been living with the condition for over two decades and the Centre has played an important role in their lives since her diagnosis.
The Centre has been with us for 21 years, giving us all sorts of support. There are people that go there that don’t just go for the physio, they also go up there to be with people who are living the same life as they are and that gives them their support. I miss it so much at the moment. I don’t want to think about a world where the Chilterns MS Centre doesn’t feature in our absolutely important support network.
Julie and David Dean
We have an amazing community of support but we are appealing to everyone to help us at a time when self-isolation and social distancing have a detrimental impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of people affected by MS.
We are asking for urgent donations to help us cover the running costs of the charity so we can continue to support people with MS when they need it most.
Your generous support is needed to keep us going through these difficult few months and help us to reach our 35th birthday in September.
Large or small, every donation will make a real difference to people like Julie and David and hundreds of others like them. We know that not everyone will be able to give, but you can still get behind the appeal by sharing it with your network of family, friends and colleagues.
Please give what you can using the Donate Now button below (you will be taken to our Just Giving page).
You can also post a cheque made payable to “Chilterns MS Centre” to Chilterns MS Centre, Oakwood Close, Wendover HP22 5LX or pay via bank transfer to our Santander Account Number: 52453684 Sort Code: 09-07-25 Chilterns MS Centre Ltd.