“You don’t have to face MS alone”. Meet Fiona Salamone, charity volunteer from Truro, living with MS.

The South and West Cornwall MS Society celebrates their launch, National Lottery funding and the tie-up with Citizens Advice

It is always good to talk to people who really make a difference in society. People who put something back. People who make things happen. Fiona is one of those people. Living with multiple sclerosis (MS) herself, first diagnosed back in 2006 but impacted by the disease since 1995, she took early retirement from her high-powered retail job and threw herself into voluntary work.

Fiona volunteered as Group Coordinator of the then-defunct South and West Cornwall MS Society in May 2021. Her success in getting a now very active and vibrant group off the ground, against the backdrop of Covid, was reflected in her nomination for the ‘Connecting’ category in the MS Society’s inaugural national awards. The award recognises volunteers’ achievements in building networks, creating partnerships, and bringing people together to help make sure no-one has to face MS alone.


“Loneliness and isolation are big issues for many people in Cornwall,” Fiona says, “with poor public transport leaving people stranded in remote rural villages and hamlets, but it’s even worse for people with MS who may live alone, face mobility issues and struggle with coordination, loss of balance or chronic fatigue. Covid exacerbated the situation, with some people effectively imprisoned in their homes. One of our group had not been out of her house for nearly three years. It’s a mental health issue on top of physical challenges.

“We can help improve people’s lives in lots of different ways. We have a big monthly meeting at the Elim Centre in Camborne (the space is very kindly donated to us). We have a guest speaker and lay on an activity: craft, singing, yoga … something to lift the spirits. We organise trips to gardens, the theatre and even took a group sailing down at Mylor. Some people had never been on the water. Mylor Mobility Sail provided a sailing boat and a powerboat, and we filled both and had a lovely day out on the river before being treated to tea at the Yacht Club.

“The neuro team at Trelissick Hospital have been marvellous, referring patients to us and coming to talk at our monthly sessions, give advice and take questions. It’s really helpful for sufferers to be able to discuss the condition and share their experiences, and the medics get to speak to as many as 50 people at once. It’s very effective outreach.

“We’ve also teamed up with Age UK Cornwall to get people who would otherwise be stranded or reliant on taxis to their hospital or physio sessions. Age UK provide electric vehicles with wheelchair access, driven by volunteers; they’ve been just brilliant. We have a really great relationship with the transport team.

“We’ve also got a great thing going with the Citizens’ Advice Centre. We won a National Lottery grant, and we use it to fund one day a week with a dedicated person from Citizens’ Advice, who visits towns and villages across our area to help address people’s worries and issues. Right now, the cost-of-living crisis is adding a lot of stress for people. We and Citizens’ Advice can help with explaining how to access financial help with bills, but we also cover what grants are available to help with equipment for access in the home – cleaning, for example – or the support available for carers. How to complete a PIP form! That’s quite a challenge for anybody!

“I was excited about the award and the ceremony and, in particular, meeting Scott Mills, but the best thing about it is that people like you are talking to me – and that means more people will know we are here and that no-one needs to face the tough stuff on their own.”

For more information, click on this link to MS Society South and West Cornwall’s Facebook group

The MS Society virtual awards ceremony can be watched on the MS Society YouTube and Facebook channels.

Please sign the MS Society’s petition asking the government to focus attention and money on the cost of living crisis: