It took about three years for my injury to be diagnosed. It all started with my little finger going numb, followed by the rest of my body which I thought was just because I was always banging into stuff. By the time I had surgery years later, I was 2mm away from being totally paralysed.

I travelled a lot for work so when I was back in Liverpool I would stay at a friend’s place and give him a little something towards rent. It was just about being able to have somewhere to lay my head for short while and wash my clothes.

Thankfully after the operation I was still able to walk, although my balance is an issue, particularly if the surface isn’t completely flat. I was using a Zimmer frame to walk and often looked like I’d had quite a lot to drink.

When I was in the Spinal Injury Centre there was talk about going to a nursing home, but there was no way I was going there; just thinking about it scared me.

Before my operation I had moved into a tiny bedsit so I ended up going back there when I was discharged as I was determined to get home. Apart from a couple of handrails that were put up, it was really difficult to get around. Showering was the worst part; because of the space, the shower was basically a corner unit with a 16 inch step to get into it. On a good day I could only just get in but would then have to walk backwards in order to get out.

Stephen sitting on a sofa with his dog

I had been on the local housing waiting list for so long and all I kept getting was a ‘no’. I literally phoned them every day but that didn’t seem to do anything. During a chat with the local SIA rep I was telling him how much I was struggling in the flat – I just needed to get out of the place – and he put me in touch with Aspire. I found out that there was an available property in Liverpool. I don’t tend to ask for help so I wasn’t expecting anything to be honest but I ended up viewing the place and I could not believe it – it all seemed too good to be true!

Having lived in the bedsit where I could touch the walls, the Aspire property was so big – I wasn’t used to having so much space. Having a shower where I could now get in and out whenever I wanted was massive!

Everything and everyone were brilliant; all the staff at Aspire were always courteous and a pleasure to deal with. If everyone was as professional and helpful as Aspire, my life would be a damn sight easier.

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