MS-UK awarded £500,000 from the Big Lottery, following a pilot funded by Catalyst

By MS-UK CEO Amy Woolf

MS-UK is a charity that empowers people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) to make the most of today and live life to the full. We run a number of services including a wellness centre, Josephs Court, based in Colchester, Essex which provides tailored exercise programmes using specialised exercise equipment as well as social activities for people with MS.

Equipment at Josephs Court

Ultimately we aim to support people to improve their health and wellbeing and maintain their independence.

We have been fortunate to have the ongoing support of Colchester Catalyst Charity which has allowed us to provide much of what we do at Josephs Court. Over the years, they have supported us with grants to allow us to purchase some of the specialised exercise equipment that is so vital to supporting our clients.

When we were looking at our plans to secure the long-term sustainability of Josephs Court, Rodney Appleyard at Colchester Catalyst Charity put us in touch with the regional representative at Big Lottery. Following an initial planning meeting it became apparent that we needed to pilot opening evenings and weekends and use this pilot to inform any application we wanted to submit.

Colchester Catalyst supported us by match-funding the pilot. Over a nine month period we were able to offer our services four evenings a week and on Saturdays. During this time we learnt lots about these times – including how they needed to be staffed and what hours did and didn’t work for people. This learning not only informed the finer details of the application we later submitted to Big Lottery, but also enabled us to demonstrate a reliable track record in these wider opening times.

One year on, and we are very pleased to say that, with grateful thanks to Colchester Catalyst’s generous support, we have secured £500,000 funding from the Big Lottery over the next five years!

Catalyst visits new Walking Gardens

Catalyst has visited the Colchester Prosthetic User Group’s Walking Gardens at Colchester General Hospital’s Gainsborough Wing to witness the final results of a £10,000 grant awarded for this project.

Christine Hayward, the Chair of Catalyst, Stephanie Grant, the charity’s Administrator and Rodney Appleyard, the Development Officer for the organisation, were shown how the facilities will help people with prosthetic limbs and stroke survivors to walk with confidence again after receiving hospital treatment.


(Above: Graham Facey and June Facey)

Graham Facey, the Chair of the Colchester Prosthetic User Group, and June Facey,  the charity’s Secretary and Care Representative, led the fundraising efforts for this project, which was also awarded £59,162 from a Government fund and £10,700 from the Colchester Hospitals Charity. All of this extra funding was unlocked through Catalyst’s initial pledge.

Facey said that the project would not have got off the ground without Catalyst’s support. “Catalyst believed in us right from the start and stuck with us through a number of challenges we faced during the process of bringing it to life. The users of these walking gardens will benefit enormously from these facilities. But it never would have happened without Catalyst giving us the confidence to keep going to make this dream come true.”

Read the Gazette article about the project here
Watch the Look East video report on the opening


 (Above: Stephanie Grant, Christine Hayward and Rodney Appleyard standing next to a plaque dedicated to Catalyst and other funders)