Jenny is a returning client to Aspire’s Welfare Benefits Service. She originally approached the service in 2016 for support with her Employment and Support Allowance claim, which was successful. She then returned to the service for support with her transition from DLA – PIP and to complete her PIP form. 

Before my injury, I was a full time Secondary English teacher and loved my work. Dave and I had been married for about seven years and had a big social life. We really enjoyed motorcycling; this was a huge part of our social group and lives and the biggest thing that changed. We often camped with other motorcycling clubs. We used to go to a lot of rock concerts, too. We had very active lives.

In 1996, when I was 32, I came off my horse in a show jumping competition and it was an awful time. We didn’t have any family support because Dave’s parents lived far away and both my parents had died about six months before the accident, but we had really good friends who helped.  Horses were a huge part of my life. I loved having a horse and riding, but unfortunately I couldn’t continue after my accident.

Jenny in her wheelchair

I realised how serious my accident was immediately.  I couldn’t move my legs and I thought of Christopher Reeve straight away.  He had a riding accident about a year before and that was big news in the horse world, so I knew I had done something serious.

I think my immediate grief was about riding and taking care of horses, probably even before motorcycling.  I was devastated that I had to give up those hobbies and I was worried about how the accident and injury was going to impact my relationship with Dave because motorcycling was what we always did together, but we worked through it.

The loss of independence was a massive blow for me. I know many people with a spinal cord injury drive but I have never been able to because of the erratic spasms I get; it’s just too dangerous. I also really missed dancing and it took me years to be comfortable enough to go into a place where good music would be playing and watch people dance.

A massive help was the sense of community and the comradery that was in the Spinal Injury Centres. In those days you didn’t get much opportunity to be alone because there wasn’t much room, which left very little time to sit and wallow about what had happened, everyone pushed each other. I made friends with a complete tetra who inspired me to carry on too because her injury was higher than mine and I thought ‘if she can cope and move on I can too.’  I still had the use of my arms - I could push my chair and I could still swim.

Dave has always been so supportive. He was just so good and so accepting. He is very down to earth and a very practical thinker, which I think this helped a lot. His thinking was ‘It’s happened and we have to get on with it’.

Going on a big holiday changed me, gave me confidence. Dave and I went on a cruise to mark my 10 year anniversary of my accident and it really made me realise that I can still do things and it can still be a very good world. It made me see that as long as I stay fit and well, maintain my ability to transfer in and out of my wheelchair and continue to work to pay for holidays like this, then there is no reason why I can’t enjoy life.

Aspire’s Welfare Benefits Advice Service has helped me with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).  

Their help and advice were key to me receiving both of these benefits. Without this, I would have struggled financially

When I received the PIP form I found it intimidating. Colleen, Aspire’s Welfare Benefits Officer, skilfully and very patiently guided me through the process.  Receiving the benefits means I can live a relatively full, independent and active life.

Aspire’s Welfare Benefits Advice Service is invaluable and was a lifeline for me.  I would recommend Aspire to anyone

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