Why I'm taking on the 'No Alcohol in January Challenge'

Communications Officer, Oliver Meades, shares his motivation for taking on MND Scotland's first 'No Alcohol in January Challenge'

Posted : 26/12/2021

- by Oliver Meades, Communications Officer

My name is Oliver and I work for MND Scotland as part of the communications team. I am fairly new in my role, having only started in early October of this year but I have already found a great deal of personal and professional satisfaction in my role. From working on the more day to day comms tasks, to telling fundraisers stories and contributing to the ‘MND Day’ at Tynecastle stadium, my job is as varied as it is fulfilling and I even recently took part in the MND Scotland Firewalk, which was another amazing experience!

Before I started working for MND Scotland, although aware of motor neurone disease and having known people with the condition, albeit in a minor capacity, I will admit that compared to my new coworkers, I had little understanding of the impact that MND had on both the person living with the condition as well as their family and friends.  

During my second week at MND Scotland, I was invited to attend a virtual support group and although a little unsure about what the group might discuss, with everything else that comes with settling into a new role as well as working from home, I hadn’t thought about it too much. I assumed I would naturally be well equipped to cope with any topic that might come up.

Almost as soon as the group started though, I quickly realized that I had severely overestimated how prepared I was and that I had perhaps been a little naïve about my understanding of peoples’ very varied and very human experiences.

It might seem obvious that being so new, I wouldn’t have a complete grasp of how MND can affect someone, but there is a level of understanding around the impact that a condition such as MND can have on a person and those close to them that I think can be difficult to comprehend if you haven’t been directly affected by it yourself. One of the biggest things that struck me during the group session was hearing about how each person had been forced to give up something they used to love doing.

As someone who loves to play guitar, hearing people explain how they were now physically struggling to take part in creative pursuits they once enjoyed, such as painting and photography, was really heart breaking to hear. Even with all of the other ways MND impacted on their lives, the thought of being forced to give up something that brings so much happiness to my life permanently seemed terrifying.

Although I feel a bit silly saying it, I did find the experience quite difficult, but it was also without a doubt extremely eye opening and a large part of the reason why I have decided to take on the ‘No Alcohol in January Challenge’ for MND Scotland.

I feel very fortunate to be where I am in my life, to have a job I enjoy and to be healthy. I think that if people out there are being forced to give up the things they love, then I can voluntarily give up something I enjoy, to raise money, that as I have seen firsthand through working for MND Scotland, really does change lives. 

Will you join me?

I would love for you to join me in taking on the ‘No Alcohol in January Challenge’ and you can do so by setting up your own fundraiser here. (It literally takes two seconds!)

Everyone who signs up will receive a free MND Scotland travel mug and we have also set up a Facebook group, full of supportive and friendly people, all taking on the challenge and we would love to have you join us here.

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