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Lou's experience of working with Multiple Sclerosis at M&B

Lou's experience of working with Multiple Sclerosis at M&B

Amandeep Chahal our consultant managing the role
Date posted: 12/05/2022

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) awareness week took place between 25 April and 1 May to help us shine a light on multiple sclerosis, an invisible condition affecting 130,000 people in the UK. MS affects the central nervous system and symptoms vary from person to person and from day to day, making it extremely unpredictable.

We recently spoke to Lou Cooper, our Internal Communications Coordinator, about her experience of working with the uncertainties of MS. She initially joined one of our Sizzling Pubs when she turned 18, perceiving the brand as fun, friendly and energetic. After leaving us to pursue a BA Hospitality Business Management degree, she knew that she wanted to remain in hospitality after graduating so she returned to Mitchells & Butlers, and recently received her 10-year service award. Here’ Lou’s story:

What does your current role at M&B involve and what do you enjoy most?

‘My role as an Internal Communications Coordinator involves keeping our employees informed with company news and giving a more detailed and holistic view of the organisation by sharing company messaging. Within our team, I help to build our company culture by sharing and promoting news stories that reinforce our values, plus organising and executing key company events.

My role is extremely varied and allows me to manage my symptoms as and when they flare up. One minute I could be content writing, the next I might be planning an event, shooting a video or educating someone on how to best to deliver their message. I get to be creative and create engaging content.

I also enjoy getting involved in M&B’s culture. A couple of key achievements are leading the social committee to climb Snowdon and Scafell Pike and helping to deliver our annual PRIDE Awards to around 2000 people over the course of a week.’

How would you describe what it’s like to work with MS?

‘Every day is different, but the thing that makes it most difficult to work around is the unpredictable nature of the disease. A lot of the ailments can’t be seen by the human eye, so it can be hard to explain to someone what I am feeling.

I first experienced symptoms of vertigo on my first working day in a corporate role some seven years ago, I thought it was the anxiety of a new role, but it turned out to be something very different! Over the following year, I experienced a number of relapses including numbness from the waist down, heat sensitivity, loss of eyesight for 3 weeks, walking difficulties, extreme fatigue and a large amount of brain fog!

Both the fatigue and brain fog are the most difficult symptoms for me working in a full-time role because I can’t predict when they are going to happen, and it sometimes stops me from reaching my full potential.’

What would you say to someone with MS thinking of working at M&B? 

‘I would say don’t rule it out! M&B have always supported me throughout my journey. They have given me time for appointments, to adjust, and they’ve offered flexibility where it is needed to enable me to fulfil my role. 

Of course, everyone’s symptoms are different, but there are roles at M&B that will suit everyone based on their capabilities. I think people naturally associate MS with a wheelchair and have a negative connotation of the disease, but with improved disease modifying drugs (DMDs) and a supportive company/line manager behind me, I truly believe anything is possible. I have the same chances as everyone else. Adjustments can be made to make your time at M&B easier so don’t let your self-beliefs hold you back.’

Any other advice you can give?

‘My best piece of advice when speaking to someone who you know has MS is to ask them how they are feeling and tell them you are there if they need you. The worst thing to say is “you don’t look ill” – sensitivity goes a long way as does compassion.’

Have you been inspired by Lou’s story?

There's a place for everyone in our pubs, bars, restaurants and head office, and we’re proud to have created a supportive place to work for someone with the unpredictable symptoms of MS. If you like the sound of the culture at M&B, and you’re looking for your next job where you can make a difference within an inclusive team, browse our available head office jobs today.

Alternatively, sign up to job alerts so you’re the first to know about our latest opportunities.

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