Burleigh Court: 4 years of supporting Back Up

Burleigh Court: 4 years of supporting Back Up

Every month of our anniversary year, we will turn a spotlight on one of our service providers to recognise their support. This month, we want to thank Burleigh Court.

Burleigh Court, a hotel and conference centre in Loughborough, has been hosting Back Up’s training weekends for over four years.

Since 2012, they have hosted 21 weekends to train our valuable volunteers. Back Up’s courses team were the first service to use Burleigh Court’s venue and, so far, they have held four group leader training weekends and will host another one in 2017.

Our under 18s services have held seven of its volunteer training and development weekends at Burleigh Court. Additionally, Back Up’s mentoring team have used the facilities to host ten mentoring training weekends and another six weekends are planned before May 2017.

The attendees always feel well treated at Burleigh Court, which provides comfortable and accessible facilities.


“I think the access is excellent and the weekend worked well, I was really happy with the venue.” – Attendee


Burleigh Court has been extremely accommodating in the run up and during each event, making an effort to help us deliver fun, professional and fun sessions. “We feel like an appreciated and valued customer, with our account manager Hayley even popping in to give us some cupcakes last Christmas,” Polly, Back Up’s Mentoring Manager, said.

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Family mentor training weekend

“Everyone is always a pleasure to work with and I feel privileged that I have been able to develop a strong relationship with Back Up,” Hayley Morgan, Back Up’s Account Manager, said.

We can’t thank them enough for their support are kindness.

Having a daughter with a spinal cord injury

Having a daughter with a spinal cord injury

This month of our anniversary year we are turning the spotlight on family members of people with spinal cord injury and how Back Up supports them.


Just one week after Mark’s daughter Sarah bought her first car and started a new job, a sudden illness left her permanently paralysed from the shoulders down. “We were a normal everyday family,” Mark remembers. “Now I ask myself: what’s normal?”

Beforehand, Mark and his family weren’t aware of the impact a spinal cord injury could have on someone’s life. “We only knew what we saw on television and in the papers,” he says.  As soon as the injury happened, the family felt overwhelmed.

Quickly, they had to make radical changes to their every day lives. Caroline, Mark’s wife, had to give up her job to move to the north of England, where their daughter was hospitalised.. “For a year I travelled every Thursday to join them and returned home on Sunday nights,” Mark says. “The family was split up.”

Sarah’s injury changed things forever. “Our lives will never be the same, we will have to adjust, we’re fighting with life,” Mark says. “There’s a lot going on at the moment and we can only cope with one thing at the time. Our daughter is our priority no matter what.”

According to research, half of parents of children with a  spinal cord injury  feel a sense of responsibility for the injury. “We feel guilty all the time,” Mark says.  “We can have a life and at the moment our daughter has nothing except the front room of our house, which I call a prison cell.”

When Sarah was discharged from hospital, the family planned her return home with a care agency. They had to adapt the house to Sarah’s needs and arrange for a care team to sleep and live in the house full time. “Having carers now living in our current house adds more pressure to the family situation, The house is a different place now but we will survive one way or another,” Mark says.

The devastating experience of spinal cord injury often causes feelings of depression and anger amongst family members. Research found that 41% of mothers and 36% of fathers are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Continue reading “Having a daughter with a spinal cord injury”

Christina: “I definitely feel guilty”

Christina: “I definitely feel guilty”

This month of our anniversary year we are turning the spotlight on family members of people with spinal cord injury and how Back Up supports them.


Four years ago, Christina got a call from her mum saying that her brother John was injured. At first, Christina’s mum said it was just a broken leg, so as not to worry her, but later that day she was told that her brother had broken his neck. “I remember thinking he was going to die,” Christina says.

“The initial two days were a blur and I think I was just on auto pilot,” Christina says. She remembers going to Newcastle, where her brother was hospitalised, to see him in the Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU). “It was terrifying,” she says.

Three days after the accident, Christina, who was 24 at the time, had her graduation ceremony. “The venue was opposite to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, where John was, so it was all very surreal,” she says.

The family didn’t know about spinal cord injury and what the condition meant to her brother’s future. Christina got most of the information online and from the doctors at the hospital. “I found all doctors were very vague,” she says. “I understand they had to be as they can’t make promises, and a lot of the outcome they genuinely can’t predict, but I struggled with this.”

At the beginning, the family was just glad that John was alive and they didn’t think too much about the impact John’s injury would have on their family dynamic.

“He lived at home for a long time after the accident and he moved out into the same village as my parents, so seeing and helping him with things does take up a lot of my parents’ time,” Christina says.

As most siblings of people with spinal cord injury, Christina felt ‘a bit isolated’ because her parents spent more time taking care of her brother. “I’ve always been more independent than my brother, and I know he needs them much more than I do right now, so I don’t blame them for how things are or hold it against them, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel sad that things aren’t how they were before,” Christina says.

Before her brother’s injury, they were a close family who used to go on family holidays and spent Christmas together. Things are very different now. “We do very little without my brother, which probably wasn’t the case before,” Christina says. “I feel like now every decision runs through the filter of ‘can John do that?’”

Having a brother with a spinal cord injury causes psychological distress. Feeling depressed, isolated and guilty is common amongst siblings. “I definitely feel guilty about doing things my brother can’t do,” Christina says. “I’m very aware that when he finds out that people are doing things he would like to do, it upsets him.”

Continue reading “Christina: “I definitely feel guilty””