As I reflect on the past year at Back Up, I feel so very proud of all we’ve managed to achieve in 2016. Our commitment to reach everyone affected by spinal cord injury has pushed us to expand our services again this year.
A real highlight has been the introduction of our Next Steps course for people with spinal cord injury who are able to walk.
We’ve always prided ourselves on listening to the needs of our service users and finding a way to meet that need. We know that people who can walk have sometimes felt ‘invisible’ in the spinal cord injury community and so we were determined to run a course that was specifically tailored to their experience.
In 2017, Back Up will run at least one Next Steps course if not more. In the same year, we will also launch our new Family Outreach and Support Co-ordinator position which will be funded by the Baxter Foundation. The individual in this position will ensure family members receive the support and advice they need as they come to terms with the injury of a loved one.
On the world stage, we have become one of the most influential peer led organisations for people affected by spinal cord injury. We’ve shared our experience this year with countries like Greece, Germany and Australia, with more planned in 2017 and beyond.
We continue to make progress and reach more people year on year but it’s been happening against a horrifying back drop of cuts. If you had your injury in the 1980s, you would expect to access specialist rehabilitation for up to 12 months. Today, you’re more likely to get 3-6. That’s if you’re lucky enough to access the specialist services you need. Many people who have their spinal cord injury as a result of a medical condition often slip through the net, missing the vital support they desperately need shortly after their injury. Support is also lacking for those who use a ventilator, or need care at home. So we recognise that Back Up must continue to develop in response to the growing challenges around us. And we also know that you all play a huge part in making that happen.
We thank each and everyone one of you that have supported us, funded us, volunteered with us or helped in any way. Without you, our work would not be possible.
As I write this I’m particularly struck by something our founder, Mike Nemesvary, said when he returned to the UK to celebrate our 30th birthday:
‘‘The commitment of volunteers cannot be stressed enough – from Board and Committee members to carers and buddies on courses and our many fundraisers and supporters. Back Up would not be in existence today without the literally thousands of individuals who believed in our mission.’’
Our mission to inspire people affected by spinal cord injury to transform their lives is as true now as it was when it was first uttered 30 years ago. And it’s those words that give me the fire to build on our successes and change people’s lives for the next 30 years to come. So bring on 2017. We’re ready for you.
If you’d like to support our work in 2017, you can click here to make a donation. All your gifts make a huge difference to what we can achieve. We’re also on the lookout for new volunteers to join our team as buddies and PAs on courses, or to help out on events and in the office. Click here to find out about all our volunteering opportunities.
Photography by Linda Scuizzato