December ’03 & January & February ’04

The Bare Necessities
“The Bare Necessities”, a campaign organised by the MS Society, Scotland, culminated in a lobby of M.S.P.’s at “The Hub”, close to Edinburgh Castle, on Wednesday 19th November.

7 people with MS from the Aberdeen area went down to lobby on various issues including prescription charges, age appropriate respite care, physiotherapy services and neurology waiting times.

3 local M.S.P.’s, David Davidson, Nanette Milne and Mike Rumbles, were there to address the issues we raised. G.T.V. and the P & J were both down in Edinburgh to meet us. On the lead up to the campaign the Evening Express, B.B.C. Radio Scotland and Community Radio also covered the story.

Many people from all over Scotland attended the venue. Speakers included Mark Hazlewood and J.K. Rowling, who gave a moving story of the life of her mother who had MS.

Some of the M.S.P.s indicated their willingness to visit the Centre and meet with people with MS to discuss their concerns, and one, David Davidson, has already made a date for Monday 8th December at 2.00 p.m.

NHS Grampian Health Plan 2003/2004
NHS Grampian have produced their Health Plan. The document contains a 3 year strategic framework and annual actions that NHS Grampian will take in partnership with other organisations to improve the health of our population.

This document can be viewed at the Stuart Resource Centre or a shortened version is available from: Shaunagh Kirby, Corporate Communications, West Gate, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Foresterhill, Aberedeen AB25 2ZN
Tel. No. 01224 558814 or

Disabilty Rights
From 1st October 2004, anyone who provides a service to the public, such as pubs, clubs, gyms, swimming pools, hospitals, restaurants and shops will have to make “reasonable adjustments” to their premises or the way they provide their services to ensure they they are not unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use.

The Disability Rights Commission will run a year-long campaign on this new legislation across Great Britain. The campaign will inform service providers and disabled people of the new legislation and highlight the steps that service providers need to make to their services accessible.

D.R.C. HELPLINE:Tel. No. 08457 622 633

Young Persons MS Group
There is now a group running for those of us who feel ‘out of place’ at the regular groups for people with MS. We now have a group running for ‘younger’ people.

Everyone who has dealings with MS can benefit from talking to others who can understand what is going on, without question, whether you are new to this or an ‘old hand’.

Everyone is welcome to come along and please feel free to bring someone with you.

The group meets on the first Wednesday of the Month at 7 PM. We meet in the SRC.

For more information contact either the Centre or give me a call on 01224 313222 (After 6pm)

Iain Morrison

Banish the Winter Blues
How often have you said over the past few weeks “Aye, the nights are fair drawin’ in”. It is common for us to feel fusionless and wabbit at this time of year. When we were cavemen this saved us going out at night and risking being eaten by the odd sabre toothed tiger who may have been hanging around the front door! Our inclination is to curl up by the fire and hibernate, after all bears, squirrels, hedgehogs and even tortoises hibernate, they may have the right idea! What I would like to do in the following article is give you a few hints on how you can preserve your health and sanity over the winter months. As ever I take a holistic view of things looking at physical, psychological and social welfare. It is useful to think of the advice in the form of the mnemonic WINTER

W – is for Warmth.
When you have MS your temperature regulation and control can be very poor – cold hands and feet are common. It is important therefore that you keep warm and avoid any swings in temperature. Think about what you are wearing, new fabrics and polyesters developed from climbing and mountaineering are very lightweight but very warm. They also have the advantage that you tend not to sweat or they will wick moisture away from the body keeping you comfortable and warm at the same time. You might even want to ask Santa for some – he may even bring you silk!

I – is for Illumination.
As the nights draw in you may feel your mood drop, may feel increasingly tired, desire to binge on chocolate or other carbohydrates. The idea of hibernation may seem very appealing. This is due to the fact that the human in common with all other animals is very sensitive to day lengths. Living in northern climes the difference between summer and winter are more marked. We require daylight to stimulate our brains and produce a chemical known as seretonin this is the chemical which is reduced in the brains of people with depression. It is important therefore that we maintain good illumination in our homes and work areas. People with true seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may wish to purchase special lighting. There are a number of companies who now sell daylight bulbs and daylight fluorescent tubes as well as light boxes.

N – is for Nutrition.
Again the temptation is to stuff ourselves with carbohydrates getting ready to hibernate. For a healthy winter we must try and avoid these temptations. Stick to a balanced diet, 5 fruit or veg per day. You may wish to supplement your diet with vitamins, there is some evidence to show that high dose vitamin C along with Zinc helps prevent colds and flus. There are other remedies such as Echinacea, which are also put forward as remedies to prevent winter health problems. Christmas and New Year tend to be the time of over indulgence in food, chocolate and alcohol. Try and avoid this, over indulgence leaves you feeling bloated and sluggish and the pounds that you put on in the winter months are all the more difficult to get off.

T – is for Try Something New.
Think about taking up a long neglected hobby. Try a new hobby. Think about crafts or games. Intellectual stimulation that these offer with keep your mind active throughout the long winter months.

E – is for Exercise.
Do what you are able to do, remain active through the winter months, maybe swimming, maybe bowling, maybe gentle exercise classes. Any form of exercise releases “happy chemicals” such as endorphins and seretonin into the body and exercise in itself makes you feel fitter and healthier in both body and mind.

R – is for Relatives.
We all have them. Christmas can be a time for great happiness with relatives but also too many Christmas dinners are spoilt by conflict. Try and avoid conflict. Try and resolve any difficult issues with your relatives before Christmas rather than over the Christmas table when it may be clouded by one or two glasses of wine.

May I finish by wishing you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. I look forward to seeing you at the Stuart Resource Centre at sometime over the next year.

Ken Lawton, General Practitioner

SPOD Closes
After 30 years of helping people with their most intimate problems, SPOD, the charity for sexual issues for people with disabilities, is no longer able to respond to individual requests and their helpline has ceased. SPOD’s website is still on-line and they hope to reorganise it to act as an information resource. The website is

In the meantime, if you are experiencing difficulties the Stuart Resource Centre has two leaflets that might be of interest to you – “Relationships and Intimacy” and “Sexuality and Multiple Sclerosis”.

Studies have shown that, for people with MS, perceived sexual concerns range from approximately 40 – 80 % in women and 50 – 90 % in men. The most frequently reported change in men is diminished capacity to obtain and maintain an erection, while the most frequent change that women report is a partial or total loss of libido (sexual desire).

Unfortunately there is no specialist counsellor or therapist in the Grampian area or even (as far as we can ascertain) in Scotland, dealing with the sexual problems encountered by disabled people. If you feel the need to talk over any issues try first bringing them up with your G.P. who may be able to refer you to someone. For general assistance you could call Square 13, (the Family Planning Clinic) at Aberdeen 642711 and speak to a nurse there or, through your G.P., be referred to one of the psycho sexual specialists who work from there. The Continence Advisors at Tel. 01467 672748 can give useful advice and information for anyone with e.g. a catheter, and certain Community and District Nurses have some skills in this area.

Don’t just let problems go untackled……with care, consideration, communication and imagination, love will find a way.

The New Pension Credit
The Government has introduced a new Pension Credit that could mean extra money, every week, for people aged 60 or over – topping up your income to at least £102.10 a week or £155.80 for couples. There’s also now an element of “reward” for modest savings.

It’s really easy to apply. Simply call freephone 0800 99 1234 Monday to Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday 9am-1pm, or visit for more information.

Can You Help Us?
We’re desperately seeking a copy or two of Cynthia Benz’s excellent book “Coping with MS”. Over the years since it was published we’ve purchased eight copies to lend out but they’ve all somehow gone astray. We’ve also recommended the book to a number of people who went on to buy their own copies and we’re hoping that someone, somewhere will be able to supply us with a copy – either one of ours or theirs.

Despite it’s venerable age, (the first edition was published in 1995), it’s still one of the best books around to lend to people who’ve been recently diagnosed with MS. Cynthia herself does not have any spare copies to send us nor can she suggest any place we might try. She has recently been in discussions with publishers about bringing out an updated version which would include latest research but obviously this will take some time. In the meantime……can you help us?

N.B. When talking to Cynthia we discussed the possibility of her coming back to the Stuart Resource Centre for another Workshop and Talk in the Spring of 2004. Hopefully, more about this later!

New Fact Sheet on Optic Neuritis
“Optic Neuritis” is a new title in the MS Society’s range of factsheets. This information leaflet details the symptoms of optic neuritis, how it relates to MS and tests and treatments for it. A useful accompaniment to “Vision and MS”, these fact sheets are available from the Stuart Resource Centre.

Talking Tapes
20 talking tapes (audio books) have recently been donated to the Centre. The tapes can be borrowed for a period of 1 month, if you would like to borrow a tape please ask a member of staff.

Pain Management
The next MS Trust online interactive chatroom will be held on Wednesday 10th December 10am-7pm The subject is Pain in MS.

Our Mile of Copper
Only 1717 yards to go. We’ve made 1537.66 inches or 128 feet or almost 43 yards – that is £230.65p. Well done everyone. Keep up the good work. We’re getting there.

One of the members of our art group has come up with an unusual way of keeping herself busy now she’s no longer working and she is helping us raise funds at the same time…. little wall plaques (see examples above) that can be made to order with your own witty slogan or heartfelt message for only £5.00 each.

You can have a maximum of 40 characters, including spaces, so. E.g “Bobby Hogg – the man everyone wants to hug” has two characters too many but “Bob Hogg etc.” just fits. The slogan can say anything you like providing it’s not too rude. (We decide!) If you’re very quick you might get one for Christmas or First Footing but they’d also make a special birthday or anniversary present. To place your order just call us at the SRC on 692777

Important Contact Number Over the Yule Period For People in the Aberdeen Area
G-DOCS & NHS 24 Tel 08454 242424l
HOSPITAL Tel 01224 681818
HOUSING (Tenant Helpline) Tel 01224 523000
HOUSING (Homelessness) Tel. 01224 693350
POLICE GRAMPIAN AREA (including DOMESTIC VIOLENCE UNIT (Child & Family enquiry): Tel. 0845 600 5700
SOCIAL WORK (Out of Hours Service) Tel 01224 693936
SAMARITANS Tel. 0845 790 9090 (Local Branch) Tel 01224 574488

Christmas Shopping
The Bon Accord Shopping Centre will remain open on the evening of Tuesday 2nd December from 5.30 to 8.00 p.m. so that people with disabilities can do their Christmas Shopping at leisure and without having to contend with the usual jostling crowds. Loch Street and Harriet Street car parks will be free of charge from 5.30 p.m. onwards and attendants will be available throughout the evening. Volunteers from the Boys Brigade and ATC will be on hand to help with lifts, escalators and to carry out your shopping. The management and staff of the food court have kindly offered to serve free tea and sandwiches and a free raffle will also be held. Some wheelchairs are available on a “first come first served” basis. Go on down to the Bon Accord Centre and have a cracker of a time!

Shopmobility, the charity that supplies powered scooters and wheelchairs and manual wheelchairs and parking spaces will also be open for business us usual so telephone them now on 630009 to book the transport of your choice for shopping not only on Tuesday 2nd but for any other date that may be convenient for you.

Nora’s Shop
Remember there is a small gift shop attached to the Centre selling cards, perfumes, ornaments, jewellery etc. for those of you who find it difficult to get to the shops. Nora usually comes in near the end of sessions on a Monday morning and a Thursday afternoon but if you’d like to browse round at other times just ask a member of staff and we’ll be happy to open shop for you.

Mobile Phones Recycling Scheme
Supermarket giants Tesco are supporting the MS Society Scotland, Barnardo’s and the RNIB through their mobile phone recycling scheme.
Tesco mobile phone recycling scheme for 2003 to 2004 was launched this summer. Phones will be recycled via postage paid envelopes. These envelopes have been available from Tesco stores nationwide from the end of June 2003.
For each telephone recycled, the customer has the choice of selecting £5 to go to one of the 3 named charities or receive 250 clubcards points and have £2.50 go to the charity.
The Stuart Resource Centre have 50 envelopes, please contact the Centre staff or Tesco’s for an envelope.