Interviews.

INTERVIEW: George Pepper, Co-Founder and CEO of Shift.ms

by Jodie Beardmore - Marketing and support assistant

INTERVIEW: George Pepper, Co-Founder and CEO of Shift.ms

The UK is full of organisations using digital technologies to make the world a better place – from organisations building health technologies to save lives, to those offering services and support to make people’s lives better. One we’ve come to know and love is Shift.ms – a digital charity set up by George Pepper and Freddie Yauner that provides a support network to people across the world who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

George Pepper, CEO and Founder of Shift.ms, gave us the low-down on how his own personal experiences led to the foundation of this important online community.

"It was October 29th 2004. What started out as a relatively normal day for me quickly turned into a day that would flip my world upside down. I was 22 when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This left me emotionless, confused, numb – I didn’t know what to think.

The first couple of years following my diagnosis were tough. My MS was aggressive early on with regular relapses and it stopped me from doing the things I wanted to do, it restricted my freedom and made it difficult to work. I struggled to find anyone like me, there was no one to talk to of the same age living with MS. I felt isolated at a time when I was crying out for help, support and a community to turn to.

In 2006 I decided that it didn’t have to be that way. I wanted to turn something negative into something positive, and so alongside co-founder Freddie Yauner and a group of friends, Shift.ms was born.

Whilst I believed there was a crucial gap in support for recently diagnosed MSers, I never expected Shift.ms to grow into what it is today. As long as Shift.ms was there for MSers who need support – whether it be a handful or hundreds – it would have served its purpose. Never did I anticipate that the network would become a truly global community, growing faster now than it has ever done before!"

Shift.ms has recently celebrated its 10th birthday and has over 28,000 members. Its goal is to –

  • Reduced isolation, anxiety and depression
  • Help people to come to terms with diagnosis and adapt to life with MS
  • Give people the knowledge and confidence to make positive choices about health, lifestyle and the future.

The success of Shift.ms speaks volumes for the value the charity brings to those recently diagnosed with MS.

"I couldn’t be prouder of the Shift.ms community," says George. "As we celebrate our 10 year anniversary the Shift.ms social network for young people with MS has surpassed over 28,000 Shift.ms members, 1.5 million people have visited our website, there are over 120,000 posts and our volunteer network ‘The Energy’ is made up of over 200 active volunteers."

So what’s next?

"The future holds promises of international expansion; hosting our second festival for young people with MS in Europe; the release of films relating to the challenges of having kids, relapses and support networks; and a revamped MS Reporters."

Onward and upward for the charity and we look forward to hearing more about their activities in future. Find out more about what they are up to at https://shift.ms.

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