Since Tracy was injured in 2014 she has lived in an Aspire accessible property and has received help from our Housing, Welfare Benefits and Money Matters advice services. 

I sustained my Spinal Cord Injury in 2014 after two vertebra in my C-spine collapsed as a result of having ongoing rheumatoid arthritis. I was instantly paralysed from the neck down, losing the ability to swallow or breath properly. I knew it was serious and I was told I might not survive.  I was taken to the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre in Stanmore and needed several surgeries to stabilise my spine.

I found out about Aspire when I was in Stanmore.  I didn’t know much so I started reading.  At the time of my injury, my son and I lived in a two bedroom house which had stairs so when I came out of hospital I had to live in the front room, with a hoist on the ceiling. This was not ideal with a teenager and I knew we needed to move. A bungalow came up to buy in the same road as some of my family.  We loved the road so we went for it, but it needed adaptations before we could move in.

Housing advice

I had assessments carried out and was assured that the adaptations were possible, but when I moved into the property, that’s when the problems started. I was receiving Continuing Healthcare but the assessments on the property had to be carried out by Social Services. It felt as though nobody knew what to do, how to support me or how to work together. What was supposed to be a quick process came to a standstill. Getting in and out of the property was a complete nightmare and I felt so unsafe just trying get around. I was living in the property with full-time care and couldn’t access the bathroom at all, I was constantly unwell and getting infections.

Eventually I was put in touch with Aspire’s Housing Advice Service. Laura helped me to see that I wasn’t alone and reassured me that my case could be resolved. I was ready to give up, but she gave me back my enthusiasm and my will to carry on. With her help we started to make progress. Finally, my adaptations were agreed on and work could start.

I spent 11 weeks in Aspire’s accessible house in Carterton whilst the adaptations were being done, which was lovely as it’s on the edge of the Cotswolds. Once the adaptations were done, I felt so much safer in my home, as I could come and go without fear of injuring myself.  It took time getting everything done but we now have a wet room.

Your Fund

I set up an Aspire Your Fund because I want to get an assistance dog and easy access to the garden is a pre-requisite.  Therefore, I needed a ramp to be able to get into the back garden as otherwise I had to go down the steplift at the front of my house and then down the alley.  Part of the bonding process with an assistance dog is to go with them into the garden and follow them around so they get used to you.  When you’re matched they’re 18 months old and have lived with two other people since they were born. 

The initial quote for the ramp went up by £1,000 by the time I had raised the money and wanted to order it. Very few companies would do it and materials became harder to come by.  My house is on a slope and is quite steep at the back.

I did most of my fundraising on social media and emailed a few who aren’t on social media. Initially it was just people I knew who donated.  It was a good way to get back in touch in people; I reconnected with people I hadn’t spoken to in years. Having Aspire behind it really helped. People are more willing to donate if it’s through a charity.

Tracy in her wheelchair at the top of the ramp

A couple of neighbours posted it on local sites and I got more donations that way. One of the most meaningful donations to me was from two young boys who live opposite.  They did a boot sale, selling their toys. They raised £26 and presented it to me in a biscuit tin with “Tracy’s ramp” written on it.

I had never done anything like that before in my life.  I had raised money for other people before but not for myself.  It was a good experience, I really enjoyed it. 

If I hadn’t been able to raise money through my Aspire Your Fund I would have had to do a regular fundraising page.  But it’s better doing it through Aspire because it raises money for them and they helped me get started.  Hannah was very encouraging, giving me tips and rewriting my JustGiving blurb for me as the first one was a bit wordy.

I had a little bit of money left over after buying the ramp.  The ramp was specialised and built in Sweden and shipped over so I had to pay a builder to put it up. With the other little bit leftover I was able to put in new taps in my wetroom as the ones in there weren’t good for hand function so I got ones with longer handles.

I can’t put into words how excited I am because the ramp is brilliant and has changed my quality of life.

It was a big weight off me when it finally arrived.  It’s so easy, I don’t even have to stop while going down it.  I can get in the garden and if it rains, I’m straight in again. I can even be in the garden and get back in to answer the front door before they give up!  I’ve been keeping my gardener busy, so I can enjoy the garden whilst I’m waiting [and he’s fence proofed it so I’m ready] for my dog. I’ve had confirmation that my assistance dog will be coming towards the end of the year.  At least now I’m ready to go when they say they’re ready to match me. 

Recently I contacted Aspire’s Welfare Benefits Advice Service to find out if I was entitled to a discount of my council tax and I received a small discount, so it was a worthwhile call.  I have also had a financial review with Aspire’s Money Matters Specialist.

I’m so grateful to Aspire for helping me to get back my independence and feel like me again.

From injury to feeling safe in her home

Your Fund

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