Danny was injured at the age of 29 following a motorbike accident. He sustained an incomplete spinal cord injury at T12, which meant he became a full time wheelchair user.  He approached Aspire's Welfare Benefit Service for support with the transition from Disabled Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and to complete his PIP application.

I worked so much before my injury. I was a motorcycle courier; I’d ride to London every morning and work 12/13 hour days and the rest of the time I was socialising in the pub or motor crossing.

My accident was caused by someone who was talking on their phone and drove right into me. I’m lucky to be alive, I broke both my legs, both arms, my pelvis was broken in five places and the surgeon said my hip joint was just like ‘bone soup’. He had never seen anything like it. I had lots of surgeries and spent eight weeks in Chatham hospital before going to the Spinal Injury Centre in Salisbury, where I spent a further seven months. I remember being really happy when I was told that I was going to Salisbury because they’d know all about my injury. I wanted to concentrate on the rehab because I was incomplete – I really wanted to make the most of my time to improve what I could.

I was told I’d probably never walk again fairly soon after the surgeries in Chatham; I'm not sure I really understood it as I was heavily medicated at that point, but I never had a moment where I burst into tears or anything like that. I just wanted to get on and deal with it best I could. I was told I had an incomplete injury and after I did a bit of research, I felt like there was a bit of light at the end of the tunnel because I could possibly regain some function. I didn’t walk again, but the hope helped me at the time. Also my perspective changed once I got into the Spinal Injury Centre. It was hard to feel sorry for myself when I was speaking to people who had higher injuries. There was a 16 year old who broke his neck and had a complete injury. I felt very lucky in comparison.

My injury had a big impact on my family - I think the biggest pain was the fact that it was a two hour journey each way and they would visit often. I imagine my parents were really worried and some friends definitely felt sorry for me, but I think most people took their lead from me so just got on with it as best they could. 

Obviously, things are difficult and take extra time, but I live a much fuller life now. I was a bit of grumpy bloke before the accident, but I have a better outlook now. This injury has changed my perspective on things and I take every opportunity I can now. That’s partly because I have more time, but I also feel very lucky to be alive so I want to make the most of everything. I go to the gym three times a week. I play sport often: I canoe, I love quad biking, I have a hand cycle and I love travelling. I’ve done a few mud runs with mates from the gym - I say I do them, but really I am just dragged through the mud by my mates!

When I rang Aspire, it was only to ask one question, I had no idea how much help I would get.  I wasn't expecting the level of support, not only with completing the form, but also the emotional side.  I am not very good with paperwork and the Welfare Benefits team just got it done and took so much of the worry away.  I am very appreciative of the help and am very glad that I phoned and didn't just email my question - I didn't know that it could take six weeks to get a decision; I learnt that after talking to Aspire.  Instead of worrying about the time it was taking, I knew it was normal. It was really helpful to have support from the very start to end, being told what letters to get from doctors and then speaking to the team about the assessment. 

If I hadn't spoken to Hari at Aspire I don't think I would have got the high award, she made sure that I understood what I needed to explain and we spoke about things that I didn't think were relevant.  I am a 'glass half full' kind of guy and someone who, if asked if I can do something, will say yes, as I will always find a way, no matter what.  Hari made me understand that it is not if I can do them, but whether I can do them safely.  Without her advice I wouldn't have explained myself properly and probably would have just accepted any award. I absolutely recommend the service.

It's funny, because as a disabled person you spend so much of your time and energy trying to prove to people that you are just fine and can do everything everyone else can, but suddenly with this you have to prove that actually you're disabled and what you manage does have an impact on your life, even if you ignore it.  

I do some work for a sporting charity and PIP helps with income.  In my spare time, travelling is my passion.  I've adapted a van which has a bed in it and I try to get away a couple of times a year.  This summer my partner and I went to Morocco, but we've also been to Sweden up to the Arctic Circle and back down through Norway. Travelling in my van takes away the accessibility worry - a lot of hotels say they are accessible, but you turn up and there is a non-accessible bathroom or a really high bed, it can be really stressful.  Now, if I want to stay in a hotel while on the road, I will check it out and if it's not suitable, I have my van to fall back on. It's perfect, it makes me independent and travel stress free.

I hope you can keep giving the same help to others.  I am really grateful for the support that I received.

Welfare Benefits Advice

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