Being told you have Multiple Sclerosis can be overwhelming, frightening, and isolating. Thanks to an Isle of Wight woman new form of support is on hand.

In less than two years Karen Holmes from Brading has gone from losing her vision, driving licence, home, and job, to helping others learn ways to cope with the day-to-day challenges of living with the condition.

Karen will never forget the day she was diagnosed:

“I had tears. They weren’t tears of panic, they were tears of relief knowing that my symptoms were because of MS and not something else.”

“After I was first diagnosed, I felt I was on my own.

“Then through meeting other people with MS, I was encouraged to start volunteering in the MS drop in centre in Shanklin, helping in the charity shop. Although I was nervous at first, it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done as the people and the support they have shown me has slowly brought me out of myself.”

Spurred on by her husband and family, Karen and others living with the disease, have gone on to set up an online support group.

The fledgling group aims to reach a broader range of MS patients – like those who have been newly diagnosed – and introduce new activities and events across the Island to help tackle the isolation and loneliness that often accompanies MS.

Louise Aitken, MS Society therapist,

“We want to try to reach more people. We know there are in excess of 400 on the Island who have MS and we’re only reaching a fraction of them.

“The problem is no two diagnosis are the same and I think that’s where it must be so frightening to be given this diagnosis and have no idea how it’s going to pan out in the future.”

The new group will be on hand to ease concerns, give advice and help MS sufferers to socialise.