The Four Day Course Aims to Provide All Support Volunteers With

The Four Day Course Aims to Provide All Support Volunteers With

Support volunteer training

The four day course aims to provide all support volunteers with:

  • A clear understanding of the core skills to undertake MS support volunteering at the MS Society
  • A clear understanding of how support volunteers can play a role in enabling people with MS
  • The ability to find and use the relevant resources available to support them in their role including the MS support volunteer Toolkit
  • Clear structures to track and build on learning from the course and their ongoing MS Support practice
  • An opportunity to network with and learn from peers
  • An opportunity to self assess their strengths and development needs in relation to MS Support volunteering

Day 4: Introduction to Money Matters

The day aims to:

  • Raise awareness of the issues people with MS may face when in employment or seeking employment
  • Promote the avenues of financial assistance available to people with MS - providing information on supporting people to access them
  • Define the MS Society’s grant-making policy and criteria including the link with people’s benefits
  • Promote good practice in branch grant-making procedures, working with MS Specialists and the Grants Team at MSNC
  • Explain the role of the Grants Team at MSNC
  • Provide volunteers with the opportunity to assess their strengths and development needs in relation to the role.
  • Provide an opportunity for volunteers to network with and learn from their peers.

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Self assessment - Day four – Introduction to Money matters

Why track your learning?

A clear framework is provided for you to track your progress on the course. This framework is:

Acknowledge your existing level of skills

Map out areas for development and measure progress

Capture any new ideas and further subject areas of interest

Whether you feel you are accomplished or wanting to learn a new set of skills, you will rate yourself against the relevant statements according to your level of confidence with that skill. Time will be provided at the start and end of each day to reflect on this. You are not obliged to share any of this document with anyone. However, we recommend that you do talk with your peers about it to support your learning.

Date: ______

Overall course

Please rate the following statements as:

1 – very accurate of me ; 2 – good description of me; 3 – in part accurate of me; 4 – not accurate; 5 – want more support to do this

Providing support / Before Day 4 / After Day 4
I feel confident that I am able to listen, ask questions and maintain effective boundaries
I can behave in an objective, non-judgemental and empathetic way, showing the person I am supporting that I accept them
I feel confident in my ability to empower those I support and promote their independence and individual choice
I can behave in a way that protects my own and others’ health and safety and confidentiality
Working with others
I understand the purpose of operating a team approach in delivering MS Support and working with the branch committee
I can identify sources of information and support to help me in me in my role as an MS Support Volunteer.
Developing your own practice
I feel able to self assess my own strengths and development needs in relation to the MS Support role
I know how to identify and operate within my own limits of skills, knowledge and comfort in relation to supporting people living with MS

Please rate the following statements as:

1 – very accurate of me ; 2 – good description of me; 3 – in part accurate of me; 4 – not accurate; 5 – want more support to do this

Providing financial support / Before day 4 / After
Day 4
I recognise the difference between the role of the local branch and MSNC’s grants team in effective grant making
I feel able to support the independence of an applicant in completing the application form
I feel able to explain the role of health and social care professionals in supporting applications
I feel able to identify and approach other local and national sources of financial assistance
I am aware of the issues people with MS may face when in employment or seeking employment

Remember this model from day 1 – consider how you have progressed around these stages of learning throughout the course and how you may now support someone else along a similar journey.

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MS and Employment: True or False

Discuss the following statements

1. You have to tell your employer that you have MS.

2. All people with MS are covered by the Equality Act 2010.

3. Employers must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to enable people to stay in work.

4. The MS Society Helpline gives free legal advice on employment to people with MS.

5. A government scheme called ‘WorkAbility’ can provide workplace assistance, taxis to and from work, and can pay for aids and adaptations to the workplace.

6. Carers have the right to receive flexible working patterns from their employer.

7. There isn’t any guidance for employers on what is meant by a ‘reasonable adjustment’. This can make it difficult for people with MS to ask for them with confidence.

MS and Employment: True or False

  1. You have to tell your employer that you have MS.

False unless there are health and safety implications caused by someone’s symptoms. There is no obligation to tell otherwise, though

you may need to disclose this on an application form if it specifically asks about health conditions. See slides on disclosure.

  1. All people with MS are covered by the Equality Act 2010.

True: all people with MS are defined as disabled people under the Equality Act from point of diagnosis. This means that it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against people with MS. See slides on The Equality Act.

  1. Employers must make reasonable adjustments to enable people to stay in work.

True. Employers need to make reasonable adjustments to enable people to stay in work, and to give equal opportunities in appointments, interviews, promotion and training. See slide on examples of reasonable adjustments.

  1. The MS Society Helpline gives free legal advice on employment to people with MS.

False – they will provide information on people’s rights, but if there is need for legal advice, they will refer someone to the Disability Law Service. Support volunteers can refer people to the Disability Law Service for free legal advice. See slide on legal advice.

  1. A government scheme called ‘Workability’ can provide workplace assistance, taxis to and from work, and can pay for aids and adaptations to the workplace.

False – but there is such a scheme, called ‘Access to Work’ which is a programme run by the Department of Work and Pensions. It provides support to disabled people to help them overcome work related obstacles resulting from their disability, if this is likely to last for 12 months or longer. People can be referred to it by the Disability Employment Advisor in Jobcentre Plus or following discussion with their manager through their HR department if they are in work. See slides on Access to Work and other government programmes.

  1. Carers have the right to receive flexible working patterns from their employer.

False – Carers do have the right to request flexible working patterns without discrimination, and if an employer refuses, they have to be able to state a business case why.

  1. There isn’t any guidance for employers on what is meant by a ‘reasonable adjustment’.

False - There is a Code of Practice for employment and occupation written by the Disability Rights Commission. This code explains how disabled people are protected from discrimination if they are in employment, if they are seeking employment, or if they are involved in a range of occupations.

It is one of two Codes of Practice which give practical guidance on the operation of Part 2 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (the law which introduced reasonable adjustments).

There is also a code of practice linked to the Equality Act 2010 called ‘The Duty to Promote Disability Equality Statutory Code of Practice which can be accessed from here:

Employers need to consult this code which gives them guidance on reasonable adjustments and examples of how this works in practice.

You can also find information in MS Essential 03 Insurance and MS.

Briefing on the Equality Act

This information was gathered from presentations and publications provided at the end of 2010 by the Government Equalities Office, the Equality and Diversity Forum, the Employer’s Forum on Disability and the British Institute of Human Rights

In England, Wales and Scotland, the Equality Act aims to end the discrimination that many disabled people face. It encompasses many of the protections that were in the Disability Discrimination Act, but there are some changes in the detail. However, two key things to remember are still that:

Employers must promote equality of opportunity for disabled people

According to this law, anyone diagnosed with MS is considered ‘disabled’. Many people with MS don’t think of themselves as ‘disabled’, but everyone is legally protected by the law from the point of diagnosis.

When did the Equality Act become law?

The Equality Act was implemented on 1st October 2010.

What does the Equality Act do?

The main purpose of the Equality Act is to simplify current equality laws and put them all together in one piece of legislation.

It brings together six existing strands of legislation that protects specific groups and introduces three more areas. The nine groups of ‘protected characteristics’ are:

  • Gender
  • Race

  • Disability
  • Age

  • Religion and Belief
  • Sexual Orientation

  • Pregnancy & Maternity
  • Gender Reassignment

  • Marriage and Civil Partnerships

Is that all it does?

No, it also strengthens the law in some areas, including that of disability and brings more consistency across existing strands of legislation.

Does it apply across the UK?

No. It applies in England, Scotland and Wales but not in Northern Ireland. The Equality and Human Rights Commission in Northern Ireland has requested that ministers consider measures to reduce the gaps that now exist between legislation in Northern Ireland and legislation elsewhere in the UK.

Does the Disability Discrimination Act still exist?

In England, Scotland and Wales, the Equality Act applies replaces the Disability Discrimination Act.

Does the Coalition Government Support the Equality Act?

The Coalition government has stressed its commitment to the Act, and ninety percent of the Act has been implemented as originally planned and on time.

What Happened to the Other Ten Per Cent?

Some parts of the Act remain to be implemented. One example is legislation on dual discrimination. Some parts have been discarded altogether. These include legislation on the socio economic duty and a measure designed to strengthen positive action programmes.

What is new in the Act?

There are changes and modifications to many areas of legislation. (See links to guidance for specific areas of law). Changes affecting disabled people include:


Protection for disabled people from indirect discrimination

Example: An employer advertising for new staff decides only to accept applications online but people who use screen readers cannot access their website. This deters people with visual impairments from applying for jobs with that employer. This employer is likely to have indirectly discriminated against a person with a visual impairment who cannot apply for a job unless the practice of accepting online applications only can be justified.

Protection from discrimination arising from disability

Example: A woman seeks admission to a crèche for her son who has a disability which means that he does not have full bowel control. The crèche says that they cannot admit her son because he is not toilet trained and the children at the crèche are required to be. The refusal to admit the woman’s son is not because of his disability itself; but he is experiencing detrimental treatment as a consequence of his incontinence, which is something arising from his disability.

Protection for anyone from discrimination against them, because of their association with a disabled person.

Example: A woman working for a legal firm is mother to a son with learning disabilities. She feels she is treated worse than other parents of non disabled children in accommodating needs for flexible working. Her claim is that she is discriminated against through her association with her disabled son.

Protection from discrimination where an individual is perceived to have a disability

Example: An employer discovers that one of its employees has a partner who is HIV positive and decides as a result to suspend her from her work. This will be unlawful if the reason for the suspension was either because the employer wrongly believed that she too was HIV Positive or if it was because of her association with someone who is HIV Positive.

What about people with MS?

The provision states that people with MS are legally considered to be disabled people from the point of diagnosis. Therefore all protections above apply to people with MS.

How should organisations respond to the Act?

Organisations are encouraged to avoid focusing on simple compliance and to take an approach which promotes good practice in working with diversity.

How do we work to support disabled people in employment?

Employers are advised to focus positively on responding to requests for reasonable adjustments and not on issues of defining disability.

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

Government Equalities Office

Equality and Diversity Forum

Please also see Working yet Worries publication in your toolkit and available from the MS Society information team.
Activity – Employment 1

Using page 23 of theWorking yet Worried publication, consider the following case and fill out the table (copied below).

  • Michelle is a chartered accountant for a small charity. She has RRMS. She has had a relapse and is now looking at returning to work. She has concerns about how she will do this.
  • Review the role description and fill out the essential task form below (referring to the template on pg 23 of Working yet worried.

Michelle’s role description:

1.Management of budgets for 5 departments;

2.Maintaining accounting records

3.Liaising with internal and external auditors;

4.Preparing financial monthly and annual statements;

5.Preparing financial management reports, including financial planning and forecasting;

6.Advising on tax and treasury issues;

Essential task - ______

Demand of job





Vision/ hearing



Interpersonal behaviour

Activity – Employment 2

Using page 37 of theWorking yet Worried publication, consider what reasonable adjustments might be good for Michelle to request.

My disability in the workplace

My MS currently causes the following issues in my work – list problems if any or leave blank (for example, I am exhausted after travelling to work on public transport)
I need the following agreed reasonable adjustments

Working with MS

At onset of MS nearly all people are in employment. Estimates of work retention vary between 20% and 30% employed by 5 – 15 years after diagnosis. People with MS are disproportionately unemployed given their educational and vocational history which means that their valuable skills and experience are leaving the UKworkforce every day.

Why work?

‘Not everyone wants to be employed,but almost all want to ‘work’, that is to be engaged insome kind of valued activitythat uses their skills and facilitates social inclusion.’

College of Occupational Therapists, 2007

‘Everyone has the right to work,to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of workand to protection against unemployment.’

UN Declaration of Human Rights (article 23), 1948

What factors lead to unemployment for people with MS?

Research shows that it is not always someone’s symptomswhich restrict them at work. Fear of the unknown, anxiety, poorperception about performance and, for some, lack of supportor discrimination from employers can all have an impact.

With the right knowledge, employer support and effectivemanagement of symptoms, MS doesn’t have to be a barrierto enjoying a productive work life.

Joanna Sweetland and Dr Diane Playford, ‘Working yet worried’, Dec. ‘10

Condition related factors:


•Cognitive difficulties

•Continence issues

•Decline in mobility


•Sensory changes

•Visual loss


•Mental health issues

The working environment:

•Hot or noisy workspace

•Lack of adequate nearby parking

•Lack of adequate equipment like chairs

•Inappropriate equipment and technology


•Ignorance of condition by colleagues/employer

•Lack of support/discrimination from employer

Work demands:


•Increasing work loads

•Lack of accommodations (‘reasonable adjustments’)

•Not enough breaks

•Fear of income loss

•Lack of understanding of legal rights

•Uncertainty about disclosure

Some quotes from people with MS:

“You are constantly having to prove yourself because people don’t understand”

“It’s difficult for me because I had my own company… which I had to sell because I couldn’t particularly carry on. Really because I thought “Well who’s going to employ me?” you know, I’m 53,I’ve got MS, I think I’ve got lots of talent within my design field but, you know, who’s going to employ me? So I’ve gone back to a rather boring part-time job”