Bay of Plenty MS Faces Uncertain Future

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Financial woes have pushed the Bay of Plenty Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society to the brink of closure, so members are rallying to get the Society back on track.

Financial losses over the past 18 months have left the Society with a $20,000 debt and having no option but to release its field officers. With the help of Multiple Sclerosis New Zealand, interim arrangements have been made for people with MS in the Bay of Plenty to access advice and support from MS Waikato.

Sharon Hitchcock, who has a strong track record of governance mentoring and work with Bay of Plenty charitable organisations, has been brought in as the new president to help the Society overcome its problems.

Sharon and current members have formed a new committee and are urging members and the wider Bay of Plenty community to support the Society in its journey back to stability.

“We are appealing for donations and voluntary support to get us over this hump. We are putting new systems in place for financial reporting and we are gathering more professional people around us to restore confidence in the Society,” says Sharon.

The Bay of Plenty MS Society has 236 members and has been operating since 2004. It provides essential support for patients’ social, emotional, physical and psychological wellbeing.

It needs $30,000 to run the Society each year and, up until this current crisis, it has been operating successfully with additional support/grants from several charitable organisations.

“Unfortunately, while demand for our services has increased our income hasn’t risen to match this need,” says Sharon.

“Our aim is to keep people with MS engaged in their community, working and contributing for as long as possible.  We help them gain the confidence to manage their lives well with MS.”

Over time, MS can lead to severe disability and may trigger other issues, including cognitive impairment.

“It’s an unfortunate fact that MS, more often than not, leads to loss of employment and a decline in standard of living. The Society is here to help people through these changes and to enable them to remain in their own homes,” says Sharon.

The Society’s plays a vital role, through it field workers and members, to embrace people diagnosed with MS through understanding, advocacy and the provision of services to enhance their way of life.

The possible disestablishment of the Bay of Plenty branch has been a shock to members and associated organisations.

Ways in which people can show support for the Society are:

  • donate
  • gift a targeted donation to pay a field worker for eight hours a week in the short term
  • become a member ($40 a year) or $20 with community services card
  • sign up as a committee member – an experienced treasurer is urgently needed
  • volunteer to help with the annual national appeal in September. World MS Day is in May.
  • attend the Bay of Plenty AGM in June

Donations and membership subscriptions can be made by internet banking: 03 0445 0236737-00 or by post to Bay of Plenty MS, PO Box 15 309, Tauranga, 3144.

If you know of anyone who may be able to help the Society through this crisis please put them in touch – phone 027 672 1917 or email admin@bopms.co.nz

For more information on the Society visit their Facebook page (BOP Multiple Sclerosis Society) or their website www.bopms.co.nz