Kirsty sustained a complete spinal cord injury following a fall at home.  She has received support from Aspire’s Independent Living, Housing and Welfare Benefits Advice teams.

When I fell down the stairs I fell on my head, broke my back and knocked myself out. I knew what I had done as soon as I regained consciousness because I couldn’t move. I wasn’t surprised when the doctor gave me the news, but obviously it was a shock to be told I wouldn’t walk again.

Before my injury I was an auditor at my Local Authority.  I’d been there for 19 years and I was really lucky with the managers I had. They really supported me to try and keep working after my injury, but it was too much for me so I decided to take early retirement on medical grounds.

Kirsty in her wheelchair

Mood wise, I’ve been up and down, but without any long periods of depression or anxiety, probably because I have such good support from my partner and family, but I do get some days where I think ‘oh shit, why?’ and it can still hit me. It is definitely a hard thing to get your head around, but that is where outside support from Aspire and Back Up play such a big part in recovery.

My time in hospital in Sheffield was good and I think that was a turning point. I feel I maximised my potential, so I was happy to go home, but the reality of what has happened hits when you get home. In rehab there is a strict schedule and always someone there to talk to or offer support. When I came home it was just me and my partner Steve and he’s at work all day.  It’s only when you get home that you realise you have to get on with it, but I’m lucky that Steve and my friends are very supportive.

Kirsty with her partner

I met an Aspire Independent Living Advisor when I was in hospital, who told me all about Aspire.  When I needed help with my benefits, the advice I received was excellent and really helpful.  I was completely lost and just couldn’t see what I was entitled to. It’s a funny thing because even though I consider myself to be intelligent, I just couldn’t figure out the system, especially for Universal Credit. I didn’t know if I was entitled to that or something else. I had hit a wall and that’s when I came to Aspire.

I feel like I received excellent and comprehensive advice; not only were all my questions answered from my first call, but other suggestions were made regarding what I could claim, things I hadn’t been aware of.  

It was really nice to have Aspire walk alongside me throughout the process and this made it so much easier. I think I got a better outcome because they were really on top of things and helped with the form, so no mistakes were made, and nothing was missing.  

I was actually surprised with the high level of service.  I didn’t expect them to be following up all the time, which was really helpful because it reminded me about things I needed to do. I can’t say I needed anything more because you had everything covered. It was brilliant.

I am very lucky to have a good pension, but we will soon be making adaptions to the house to make it more accessible. The money from my benefits will help with this and it’s reassuring to know that the extra money is there should we go over our budget while adapting the house.

Welfare Benefits Advice

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