“Being together as a family has always been my priority since Johnny had his accident”, Julia Beer says as she recalls the moment she found out the damaging effects of her son’s spinal cord injury.

Her son Johnny was only 15 years old when he was injured in a trampolining accident and was paralysed from his diaphragm down affecting all four limbs and the body and required a part-time carer.

Julia, her husband and Johnny were living in a converted chapel at the time of the accident. “As you can imagine it was an old, quirky building with no suitable amenities for Johnny – not ideal for what was now required. We were advised to extend our home but it just wasn’t going to be a suitable sized space to now house the whole family, Johnny’s carer and all the equipment he would now require.”

Julia urgently looked for somewhere where the family could live together once Johnny was discharged. In a rush to find somewhere they moved in to a rental property which was located on the grounds of a school; a former caretaker’s residence. “Albeit very crowded, we decamped into a bungalow with the garage altered into another bedroom. It was difficult and affected us as a family seeing Johnny struggle due to the lack of space and layout, however being at the bungalow gave us some ‘wriggle room’ to find a permanent home”, Julia recalls.

The family barely had time to settle in to their new home before an eviction notice was given with limited time to move. “I went into overdrive”, Julia remembers. ”Trying to find somewhere for us to live temporarily seemed impossible and we ended up having to go to court to obtain an extension on the eviction notice whilst trying to sort out the sale of our family home.”

“I went into overdrive... Trying to find somewhere for us to live temporarily seemed impossible"

Amidst the rush of finding a suitable new home for her family, Julia was introduced to the Aspire Housing programme. “I came across Aspire in my discussions with various people as a possible short-term solution. After speaking to the Aspire Housing Manager, I soon found out that a property was available that could house Johnny in accessible accommodation whilst I looked for somewhere, where we could all live together.”

After two years of living in an Aspire House, the family are soon to be moving to in to their fully accessible new permanent home. Julia says, “The Aspire Housing Programme has been absolutely fab!”

“We have come up against so many people; professionals even, who did not seem to comprehend what is actually required, for example the need for space. What we found was a lack of understanding and what can only be described as compassion fatigue.  Aspire understands the needs of individuals living with a spinal cord injury.” Their time in an Aspire House allowed the family the chance to come to terms with the new needs in their life.

"What we found was a lack of understanding and what can only be described as compassion fatigue.  Aspire understands the needs of individuals living with a spinal cord injury."

As Julia thinks back to how far her family have come since Johnny’s accident she says, “At the time, being separated was awful but in hindsight I do think it’s been a bit of an education for my son in living independently. It might be a little hard getting back accustomed to living all together!”