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Hayley's Story

“It’s not just about me getting out and having a chitchat here there and everywhere, I’m better for it and feel happier in myself”

Hayley on a mobile scooter smiling

Hayley was a teacher of Basic Skills and NVQ to support work based learning for adults, helping many people get into work, before her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis in 2009. Hayley also taught pottery classes for people who had suffered nervous breakdowns as art therapy; little did Hayley know that she would soon need help herself. She had to give up work as she couldn’t stand or talk for the duration of a class and the fatigue affected her.

“You get depressed, completely bent out of shape and you can end up spiralling yourself down into the ground right up to your eyeballs. Sadly I was already there, right up to my eyeballs and I didn’t even know it at the time. What brought it to my attention was my Niece who told me I had been living in the flat for a whole year and hadn’t even gone out the door.”

She describes the impact MS has had on her as “a really cruel existence” particularly because “it gets worse and worse and worse, unless you do something about it yourself”.

Hayley decided to do something about it herself and applied for a grant for a mobility scooter from the MS Society who referred Hayley to Turn2us for a further grant to fund gym membership.

“The scooter was no good if I didn’t have membership to a gym, because the whole point of my operation, as I see it, was to get me out of the flat. I live alone, I don’t have children, I don’t often get lonely, I live alone but I needed to be part of society”

Hayley was awarded £1000 for specialist gym membership – the grant should cover membership for 4 years. The gym has an assisted toning suite and a disability friendly swimming pool that you can walk into, where Hayley takes part in low impact aerobics.

Being active and mobile is very important to Hayley. It gives her life purpose.

“What Turn2us has done for me is, it has taken me from being stuck in my flat everyday on my own, it’s got me out of the flat, socialising and it has enabled me to be part of the groups that are taking part in the toning suite”

“It’s not just about me getting out and having a chitchat here there and everywhere, I’m better for it and feel happier in myself”

“It has brought a lot of happiness to my life, which I had no idea I was lacking. It is the happiness and the laughter and it has brought some structure to my life. Whereas before I was like “well I’m just existing and what is the point of being here anymore” and I really did have suicidal thoughts”

“I liked who I was, I liked my life, I like everything I did, and all of a sudden I had this person living with me who I don’t like. Well, I didn’t like and I just wanted out. I just couldn’t see any future for me”

“I’ve worked all my life and been an able bodied person… Instead of sitting here thinking “well I’ve gotten a bit worse” I could either use things that are going to get me from A to B or I could just stay here and feel sorry for myself… I needed to get out. I have a life now and I am not just a drain on society”

“I have some structure in my life, so every day I can write a bullet point list of what I’m going to do, when I’m going to do it, why I’m going to do it, what it is going to do for me and so on and so forth. So I have a story every day” “It has made me really, really happy it has”

Exercise can really help to manage MS and can slow any deterioration so the gym membership has been immensely beneficial to Hayley. She has become a real promoter for the cause and has persuaded many of the people with MS she knows to take part in the gyms classes.

“Since I’ve had the ability to have this structure in my life it has made me feel a lot more positive and it’s given me back a little bit of my confidence”

The positive affect this has had on her life has enabled Hayley to take part in campaigning work for the MS Society including a photoshoot in London. “It has given me so many opportunities”

Reflecting on the campaigning activity she has done Hayley says she “can’t believe I did that” and that the grant “has enabled me to turn the corner”

Listening to Hayley it is impossible to not be affected by her positivity and inspired by her drive. You could describe her as a new person since she has started her exercise classes but it would be more true to say that she has got the real Hayley back.