Birmingham Children’s Hospital | Joe’s story

Birmingham Children’s Hospital | Joe’s story

Joe had dreams of becoming a rock star but everything changed four years ago. He a blood clot on his spinal cord, which caused a stroke. He almost died.

After the stroke, Joe spent 15 months in Birmingham Children’s Hospital, a UK paediatric centre offering care to 90,000 children and young people across the country every year. During his rehabilitation, Joe felt depressed and he was struggling to cope.

Joe’s mum, Karen, desperately wanted to help her son. In 2012, she got in touch with Back Up after seeing our BBC Lifeline appeal on TV. She asked about the support we could offer Joe.

One of Back Up’s volunteers visited Joe while he was in hospital. During the visit, they both talked about returning to school and how having a care team could help Joe’s independence.

“Meeting Back Up made me realise that I can still go out and watch gigs,” Joe said. Since meeting Back Up, Joe has attended a Back Up course for children and young people, a wheelchair skills training sessions and has become a member of our youth advisory group. He has also won Young Person of the Year at the annual Back Up Ball.

After being discharged, Joe returned to Birmingham Children’s Hospital as an outpatient. However, this time he was feeling happier and more positive about the future. The staff at the hospital saw the difference Back Up had made to Joe’s life, so they asked us to work with them to organise an event for other children living with spinal cord injury and their families.

As a result, we collaborated with the hospital to deliver a Family Fun Day. During the day, we delivered wheelchair skills training and Back Up young volunteers were encouraged to share their experiences of living with spinal cord injury.

“By meeting others in a similar situation, young people realise they are not alone, they make new friends, build their support networks and have fun. The Family Fun Day couldn’t have happened without the hospital staff who encouraged families to attend, organised the space and welcomed Back Up to run sessions,” Beth, Back Up Under 18s Manager, said.

“The event at Birmingham Children’s Hospital was important to me because they were a big part in helping me get to where I am today. I wanted to give something back,” Joe said.

Hospital staff particularly liked the session delivered by Ben, one of Back Up’s Youth Advisors. Trauma and Rehabilitation Coordinator at Birmingham Children’s Hospital said: “The openness and honesty was appreciated by everyone. They were full of enthusiasm and we were amazed by the way they encouraged even the more reluctant children into taking part.”

The next Family Fun Day at Birmingham Children’s Hospital is planned for Sunday, May 22 2016 and is open to any children or young people with spinal cord injury.

Get in touch with Beth ( for more information or visit our website to find out about our services for children and young people.




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.

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.

Totalskidskolan: 19 years of supporting Back Up

Totalskidskolan: 19 years of supporting Back Up

Our friends at Totalskidskolan ran Back Up’s first ski course in 1997. Since then, they have run a further 45 courses, supporting over 250 participants with high level spinal cod injury, including a number of permanently ventilated participants.
They have helped us run five youth ski courses and an additional 16 ski kart taster days in Bracknell, where, each year, at least two of their instructors would come over to give people the opportunity to try ski karting.

“Thank you Back Up so far the best week of my life since I broke my neck.”

Ben Wimbush

The ski school, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017, is full of enthusiasm, passion and knowledge. They work with a range of people with different disabilities and go above and beyond to make this ski courses happen.

Some years ago, they were happy to introduce a night ski on the adult ski course, enabling participants to see the Northern Lights and experience a different dimension to skiing.

Last but not least, they provide one-on-one instruction to all participants, helping some to obtain a ski licence.

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