Jemma Pressman

Volunteering has helped me overcome massive hurdles

Jemma P 16th July 2016

Young Ambassador Jemma contracted meningococcal meningitis and encephalitis whilst at uni, and wants all students to get the MenACWY vaccine that she missed out on

Jemma MenACWY

"Meningitis Now's motto is 'Saving Lives, Rebuilding Futures'. They campaign for meningitis vaccines to be available for everyone, as well as educating people about the signs and symptoms of the disease.

"This is amazing work but they are also incredible at rebuilding lives. When I first contracted meningococcal group Y meningitis and encephalitis in October 2013, I was fighting for my life. A week before I was starting my second year of a law degree, feeling completely fit and healthy. 

"Only a few days later, I was in an induced coma for three weeks and on a ventilator for three and a half months. When I first woke up I couldn't move anything and as time went by, I gradually got some movement back, but it's left me using a wheelchair. Although I am getting stronger both physically and mentally it's a long process to rebuild my life.

 "During my recovery, Meningitis Now contacted me, and explained all their services. They paid for counselling to help me deal with what had happened and get out of a very depressed mind set. They also funded 30 weeks of horse riding which has been amazing. 

"I can't put into words how thankful I am for this grant and for the opportunity to build up my muscles. It really has worked! Although walking still isn't easy and I use a frame, I'm so much stronger than I have ever been since I contacted the horrible illness! This progress has made me incredibly positive as I know the future is going to be great.

"I've now become a voluntary Young Ambassador for Meningitis Now. Volunteering is an amazing opportunity to make a difference. It is so worthwhile and it's lovely to meet new people and help educate people! I'm very passionate about the MenACWY vaccine campaign, because if the vaccine was available when I went to uni, I would have been protected and I wouldn't now be rebuilding my life.

"But it is available now for free through your GP! To students attending uni or thinking about it - don't risk not having the vaccine. I'm in touch with many universities around the country but what I would love, is if we had people at universities volunteering for Meningitis Now! This would mean that the charity could keep in touch with students regularly, tell them about the MenACWY vaccine and raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease.

"I promise you, you'll love volunteering with Meningitis Now and it will make you feel amazing! I feel amazing doing it and it really has helped me overcome massive hurdles in my long road of recovery. So even if it's just a few hours volunteering here and there, you'll be surprised how much good that does for a small charity trying to 'save lives and rebuild futures'."

To find out more about volunteering email volunteerdevelopment@meningitisnow.org or call 01453 769025.