Vincent was a scaffolder who cycled to the station every day to get the train into London to work.  On his way home one day last August, that changed when he hit his handlebars on something which knocked him off his bike, landing awkwardly.  He was initially taken to East Surrey Hospital,  was discharged and then two days later was sent to St. George’s for an operation on his neck.  He had an incomplete spinal cord injury which meant that he had some feeling below the injury but had mobility and dexterity issues.

The goal was to send Vincent to the London Spinal Injury Centre in Stanmore, but he had several complications from the operation, including infections in the wound site, followed by pneumonia.  They discovered a tiny fragment of bone left in his neck had caused an abscess which was pressing on his spinal cord.  The resulting procedure left him in ICU for a month, delaying his rehabilitation even longer.

Eventually he was well enough to be transferred to Stanmore, but upon arrival, an MRI showed that he had two litres of fluid on one of his lungs, so another operation was necessary.  It was three weeks into his rehabilitation that Vincent first met Lindsay, Aspire’s Independent Living Advisor.  She explained her role and the services that Aspire provided.  They chatted about life on the ward and what to expect from rehab.  Having never had to claim benefits before, Lindsay was able to provide information on which benefits he may be entitled to and introduced him to the Aspire Welfare Benefits team for advice.  She also talked about the other charities and the support that they could offer to him and his family. 

Vincent at Twickenham

“Lindsay was great, she always had time for a chat, giving encouragement and advice along the way.  I’ve recently been back in for a few weeks of additional rehab and it was lovely to see her again.  She is so easy to talk to, she took time to explain things in a way that made sense.  The medical staff were amazing, but I found it so much easier to talk to someone who had been through it." 

Meeting her made a massive difference, and I don’t know what I would’ve done without her, she was never too busy to chat and always had a smile for everyone.

“I can now get around our flat using a frame and am getting stronger all the time.  I just need to keep up the momentum after the three weeks of physio I’ve had in a ring-fenced bed.  Lindsay always emphasised the importance of listening to the physios and keeping up with exercise.  She opened my eyes to the possibilities of being able to do things for myself and let me know what life would be like when I left hospital.  She’s been there and done it which gave me hope.”

“We had so much advice from the staff at Aspire that my wife and I decided we wanted to do give something back for their help, not just from Lindsay, but also Belinda in the Housing team and the Welfare Benefits Advisors.  Hayley works for Santander Consumer Finance, and they run a Charity of the Year scheme so she put Aspire forward.  We were really pleased that Aspire was chosen as one of two charities that they will be supporting this year as we know what a difference the money they raise will make.”

Santander get on their bikes to support Aspire

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