We’re thrilled to announce that Andrew Dickinson has taken over a new role at Back Up as our Family Outreach and Support Coordinator.
This unique new role, which is funded by a grant from the Baxter International Foundation, is a first point of contact for family members of people with spinal cord injury, providing much needed support and advice.
In his role, Andrew will coordinate a team of volunteers – all of whom have a relative or partner with an injury – to visit spinal centres, run information sessions and connect with family members on relative days. Back Up will also be piloting a new telephone support service for families too.
“With this new role in place, we will be able to connect with families as soon as possible after their loved one has a spinal cord injury,” said Andy Masters, head of Back Up’s Outreach and Support services. “At this point, many family members can feel guilty about asking for help because they feel the focus shouldn’t be on them. Our new Family Outreach and Support Co-ordinator will proactively reach out to families, make those all important early connections to offer support and refer them through to our other specialist services.”
Many family members suffer feelings of depression and isolation after the injury of a loved one. Our research shows that 33% of parents are clinically depressed, and 76% of siblings experience feelings of neglect and isolation.
Andrew knows first hand how vital this support for family members will be. He first became aware of Back Up when a family member of his was involved in a car accident in 2009 which caused a permanent spinal cord injury.
“Immediately after Sam’s accident it was hard to imagine that life could ever be the same again. We were plunged headlong into this whole new world, caught spinning in a maelstrom of new terms like “autonomic dysreflexia.” We were lost and travelling without a map.
However, what Back Up gave us was the reminder that just because we currently felt lost didn’t mean that we were the first ones to walk this road. What is so amazing about this charity is that they recognise that this sort of injury affects everyone. My entire family experienced a trauma in that car accident and every one of us could benefit from support.
That’s why I feel so excited to take on this role within Back Up as the Family Outreach and Support Coordinator. I’m looking forward to building relationships with families affected by this injury, working with our colleagues in the NHS to develop support within spinal units and creating a space for family members to share and learn from each other.
This is something that has never been done before, our estimates suggest that there are 4,000 new family members encountering this world with every passing year and I am very much aware of the monumental nature of the task ahead. I can’t wait to get stuck in.”
If you’re a family member and need support, please email Andrew (Andrew@backuptrust.org.uk) or call him at our offices on 020 8875 1805.