People are the foundation of our policy work – they enable us to speak out and they keep us relentlessly focused on why we do what we do. We believe that our voice is strongest when we speak on issues where we have expertise, experience and evidence. As a small organisation we need to take a smart and focused approach to improving MS services and making a real difference to people living with MS now. Part of being accountable to our supporters, donors and funders means working in the areas where we can achieve the greatest impact. This sometimes means making difficult decisions about what we do and what we don’t do. We use the following questions to guide our decisions about what to prioritise:
- Is the issue important to people living with MS and the health professionals who support them?
- Is the issue is clearly linked to our organisational strategy, and will it help us achieve our vision for improving MS services?
- Do we have relevant expertise, experience, and evidence?
- Can we add something valuable to the debate that no-one else can bring?
- Can we help to provide solutions, not just point out problems?
- Will our contribution add to action taking place elsewhere, rather than duplicating it?
Our values and approach:
We trust and we are trusted
We believe in people living with MS and in the health professionals who support them. We champion the right and ability of people with MS to make their own choices, manage their own health and be equal partners in their care. We fight for the systems and structures that will allow health professionals to deliver the high quality and responsive services we trust them to provide. We value everyone’s experience and contribution. Because of that, we are trusted to speak out on their behalf.
We are experienced
We have been working to support people living with MS for over 20 years. Our information service gives us a direct connection with people living with MS and the issues that are important to them, and our extensive programme of support and development for health professionals gives us a unique insight into how MS services are working. We actively consult with people with MS and health professionals to help us develop policy positions that accurately identify problems and provide practical solutions. We use this expertise to tell policy makers about the changes that will benefit people living with MS and – crucially – how to achieve them.
We are evidence-based
We build vital evidence about the value of specialist MS services to help us speak out for change. We ensure our influencing work is based on robust evidence through conducting independent research and working collaboratively with other patient organisations, charities and NHS teams to understand the issues affecting people with MS and MS services. Our innovative GEMSS project has developed the largest dataset in the UK about MS specialist nurse services. We use this evidence to persuade decision-makers about the need to improve services for people with MS, and how to do it.
We are constructive
We don’t just identify problems; we aim to provide solutions. While we will always be direct and honest about the issues facing people living with MS and MS services, we want our policy and influencing work to encourage and support health professionals. Focusing on constructive relationships and solutions means we are trusted and respected by health professionals and policy makers, increasing our influence and impact.
We are collaborative
The MS Trust is a small organisation with an enormous job to do. We cannot and should not do everything alone. Working collaboratively is part of our focused and smart approach to improving MS services and getting the most out of our limited resources. We actively seek opportunities to work with other organisations to provide real benefit for people with MS. We will only achieve our vision by building partnerships, networks and a strong MS community.
We are determined
Achieving real and lasting change for people living with MS can be a long and sometimes frustrating process. But we are determined and persistent. We never forget who we are working with and for; this is what drives us. We have something to say and we will work tirelessly to build the relationships and find the levers that will bring about the change we are all seeking.