Dale sustained his SCI in January 2021, aged 29.  Aspire supported him to appeal a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) decision at the Mandatory Reconsideration stage, which was successful.

Before my injury, I was very active. I loved running and cycling - any kind of sport, really.  I was working in sales and consultancy for a software company based in Vienna and used to travel around Europe a lot. I couldn’t return to that job for various reasons - I couldn’t commit the time during the week and all the travel wouldn’t have worked. Now I work for Spinal Research as a Data Integrations Manager. My injury certainly opened the door for that, and it's great to be working towards funding research into paralysis.

Dale sitting in his wheelchair with a dog on his lap

I was 29 when I sustained my spinal injury.  I was out jogging early on New Year’s Day and as I went to cross a road, I got hit by a car doing over 45mph in a 30mph zone.

I was taken to the Southampton trauma centre after my accident and I was in an induced coma for 17 days. Because I had so many injuries, it was my best chance for my body to recover. When I woke up, I was already aware that I was paralysed. Whether or not I could hear conversations, I don’t know, but when I came round I wasn’t surprised when the injury was explained to me.  

I was transferred to Salisbury Spinal Injury Centre, where I stayed for six weeks. It was the middle of Covid so there were no visitors allowed. I did what I needed to do to get home as quickly as I could. 

It wasn’t until I got there that I knew what a spinal cord injury really meant and the reality of living with one. It was where I learnt how to live again, about the effects on bowel and bladder and everything else that comes with it.

I’ve been with my wife for seven years. We weren’t married at the time of my injury; our wedding had been booked for June 2020, but Covid put a stop to that. We decided to go ahead in June 2021, five months after my injury.

Dale with his wife on his wedding day

I don’t see my friends as often anymore because I had to relocate to find an accessible property, but I would say most of my relationships are a lot stronger now. Everyone has always been very supportive. 

I am still very active but participate in different sports now. I have recently been on a ski trip to Colorado where I used a sit ski. I loved it and I will probably try to go on a ski trip once a year. I’ve also done the Isle of Wight sailing race and recently started to learn how to fly. There are so many charities out there that help disabled people try new things. I like to crack on with every opportunity I’m given.

Dale on a sit ski in the snow

I heard about Aspire when I met with an Aspire Independent Living Advisor.  I told her about my PIP decision and she put me in touch with the Welfare Benefits Advice team who helped me to do the appeal.  Their advice was incredibly helpful. I found the PIP process so overwhelming and a lot of hard work. There are so many things to think about, especially for someone who is newly injured and applying for the first time.

I applied for PIP myself and for some reason got the lowest amount. Aspire reviewed it, told me it was worth appealing and then took control. You told me exactly what I needed to do, who I needed to contact to get the best evidence and exactly what they needed to write. If that wasn’t enough help, you then wrote the letter and posted everything for me.  

In the end, I was given the higher award. It was such a great service and stress free.

The help from Aspire made everything so easy and it was so helpful. I always recommend the service to anyone I speak to with a spinal cord injury.  

Welfare Benefits Advice

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