David sustained a spinal cord injury in 2003, at the age for 42.  Since 2016, he has received help a few times from Aspire’s Welfare Benefits Advice. Most recently, Aspire supported him with a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claim after the application he made failed. This application was successful and David received the highest PIP award.

It was just a normal Saturday. I came home from work and had just put a pine ceiling in the landing over the stairs. I was sanding it down, standing on a stepladder through the loft hatch. I turned around, but the ladder collapsed and I fell on top of it. I have never known pain like it. It felt like somebody had pulled my legs inside out; total pain and shock went through my body and I passed out.

I was stuck at the top of the stairs so two ambulance crews arrived. They strapped me to a stretcher and had to carry me from the top floor of our three story house. I was taken to our local general hospital initially where they did a CT scan and realised the extent of the damage to my back. I was transferred to Oswestry Spinal Injury Centre a few days later where I stayed for just over two months, including many weeks on bed rest. 

I mainly remember feeling so shocked about how much damage there was. You don’t fully realise the extent of your injury when there are lots of things going on in a busy hospital environment but, once it set in, I was worried about the unknown and how I would recover from all of the damage.

I was told that I might be able to walk again, but due to the level of injury, there were no guarantees and that if I was able to walk again, it wasn’t known how well I would walk. It was difficult not knowing.

David on his scooter with his dog

I’m married with one daughter and I was 42 when I was injured.  I am a qualified motor vehicle technician and when I was injured I was working in a BMW garage. I had been in that trade all my life since leaving school at 16. I had a huge interest in cars and used to love going to classic car shows.

I couldn’t return to the motor trade and I certainly couldn’t be a mechanic again. I was off work for a year after my injury and then I worked in the local petrol station for two years. In that time I decided to do a course in computing and as a result, I got a job at the college where I studied, supporting students with learning difficulties. I started that in September 2006 until taking early retirement (due to SCI related health issues) in May 2019.

Experience with Aspire

I was given Aspire’s details during an appointment at the hospital. Their Welfare Benefits Advice team had supported me back in 2016 with an Employment and Support Allowance claim but this time I needed help with Personal Independence Payment (PIP). I had made a claim in the past, but it was turned down. I decided to apply again and knew it was best to not do it alone. I needed help to understand how my disability relates to what needs to be included on the form.

Their advice was very helpful. When you’re going through the benefits process, it’s good to have a team that understands all the little details, as that can make a difference between getting PIP and not.

The fact that Aspire only works with people who have spinal cord injuries really helps too. It’s a connection and feels very reassuring rather than swimming on your own trying to get support from people that might not understand all aspects of Spinal Cord Injury.

Aspire’s Advisor Michelle completed my PIP form with me. She was very professional and patient. She understood exactly what needed to be done and was able to answer all the questions I had.

My experience with the team has been very positive; there is nothing that needs to change or be improved, it’s fantastic. All my appointments were on time, the advice I received was precise and I found everything to be very efficient. After my call with Michelle, she sent a copy of my answers and I was able to give that exact information to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It was an easy process, very efficient and stress free.

I would not have been awarded PIP without Michelle’s support. I applied in the past and it was turned down because I did not provide the relevant information. Michelle made sure everything was correct this time.

David by the sea

The extra money will certainly help with day to day costs. We can have the heating on at night now thanks to this bit of extra income, which we couldn’t do before. I also need to replace the battery on my scooter and the PIP money will help with that.  

I really appreciate all that the team do for people like me. The fact that the team have been there on more than one occasion is a tremendous help. There is no way I would have got this PIP award without Aspire.  


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