A CHARITY that has been improving the health of people with a range of conditions for 25 years is being given a new lease of life.
The MS Therapy Centre in Inverness was set up in 1992 by a group of local people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and since then has been providing therapies to help members self-manage their symptoms.
The centre’s treatments – including oxygen therapy, physiotherapy and massage and reflexology – can help with other medical conditions, such as cancer, Parkinson’s and diabetes.
The facility also provides emotional and social support for members, including a transportation service, to combat exclusion and isolation.
It is the only centre of its kind in the UK providing such a range of therapies and services to a diverse population of individuals and uses the only oxygen chamber in the central Highlands.
As part of its silver anniversary celebrations, the centre in Burnett Road is being re-branded to highlight its wide-ranging services, which the charity aims to improve and expand in future.
From today, it will be known as The Oxygen Works and will raise its profile to reach as many people in need of its services as possible.
A re-brand launch event was held in the city’s Vue Cinema, with short films featuring staff and members.
Centre manager Leigh-Ann Little said: "The new name is logical – the oxygen works. We know that, we’ve been delivering care for 25 years. But it works on so many different levels for people with different conditions.
"That’s really important because it allows us to show the wider community they can access what we deliver.
"Through research, we know there are many more people living with MS and other health concerns who require the support of a centre like ours. In order to access and support these individuals it became evident that there were key challenges around visibility, accessibility and branding, that need to be addressed.
"It is important to consider the heritage and narrative of our centre, as well as recognising the centre’s evolving role within the community.
"We want to effectively reposition ourselves as a diverse, flexible and dynamic organisation that reflects the positive experience of members and attracts interest and involvement from many other quarters including partners, influencers, the public and private sectors."
More than 500 centre members travel from across the Highlands and from as far afield as Aberdeen and the Outer Hebrides, to use the facilities.
It costs £250,000 a year to run, with the bulk of income coming from users and donations.
Beth Anderson, the centre’s deputy manager, said: "People are always surprised at how many clients we can help and all the different illnesses that can benefit from the therapies we offer at the centre.
"MS will always be at the core of what we do, but we can assist so many other people with other conditions because of the facilities we have and the services we provide."
The centre’s benefits have been praised by users and medical experts.
Sheena McLellan, of Ross-shire, receives treatment for a spinal injury and Lyme disease. "I consider the MS centre to be a therapy supermarket and I get to choose the therapies I want," she said.
"When I first started coming here, I was looking to access assistance for my physical wellbeing, but, over the course of attending here and listening to the experiences of others, I realised it’s just as important to have therapies or some interaction with other people that helps my emotional wellbeing too."
Oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen at higher than normal atmospheric pressures, which can improve circulation and recovery. Delivery of more oxygen to body tissues also enhances the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria.