Back up continuing to support people with spinal injury
Read on for a blog from Rich Osborn, Back Up’s Outreach and Support Coordinator in Scotland. Rich has written about the past year, how Back Up have adapted their services, and the support we provide as their Scottish sponsor.
As someone with a spinal cord injury, I know first-hand how daunting it can be. Following such a big shift in your life, it can be hard to navigate the muddy waters of finding the right support. Since Back Up’s inception in 1987, helping people find peer support is something we have worked tirelessly to achieve. It has taken us to where we are today – a leading spinal cord injury charity, providing wheelchair skills training, mentoring, and courses to name just a few of our services. We help hundreds of people every year to get the most out of life after spinal cord injury.
The past year has been different. The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on how we provide our life-changing services. Under normal circumstances, we would be supporting people in person with wheelchair skills training in hospital, as well as on our residential courses. We haven’t been able to do this during lockdown, so we’ve used the knowledge and experience of our staff and volunteers to find solutions. The answers lay in embracing technology as much as possible. Back Up has worked hard to create new digital offerings for people affected by spinal cord injury. We developed a wheelchair skills app to help people practise using a wheelchair wherever they are. A chatbot was also added to our website, so we can help users navigate the resources and support we have online with ease.
With people not being able to see their friends and loved ones in person, we set up a Zoom forum – the Back Up Lounge – so that people in the spinal cord injury community could connect with each other in a socially distanced way. We have had such amazing feedback for the Lounge, with people enjoying having a space where they can talk about issues that are important to them. We now have over 40 people joining us every fortnight. These new, innovative services have allowed people affected by spinal cord injury to continue to get support in these tricky times. The lessons learned during the pandemic will help us move forward, and have been a key driver in the development of our new four-year strategy. Even when our face-to-face services resume, we can still use technology to widen our reach and support even more people in Scotland and the rest of the UK when they need us most.
At Back Up we rely on the generous donations from our incredible individuals, corporate partners, trusts and foundations. Without their support our work would just not be possible.The tireless hard work of our fundraising team – Trusts, Corporate fundraising, Events and our Community teams – ensures we can deliver our services. They too have had to adapt during the pandemic – hosting virtual events, applying for new trust funds, and engaging with new corporate partners that share our values. It truly has a been a team effort to ensure Back Up is in a good place, so we can be there for everyone affected by spinal cord injury.
Without the continued support of wonderful sponsors such as Digby Brown, we would not be in such a position to be delivering the standard of support we aspire to. Their support has been invaluable, and the effects of that support are felt by every single person we support here in Scotland, truly changing lives for the better – the biggest of thank you from us all here at Back Up.