Will is an Aspire Independent Living Advisor.  Our advisors all have a spinal cord injury themselves and offer advice and support to newly injured patients in Spinal Injury Centres.

The last 18 months have definitely been a challenging year for everyone and my role has had to evolve over the last year. I’ve had to work remotely for the majority of the time, mainly through phone calls and Zoom.

Belfast Independent Living Advisor Will

Not being able to go and see patients face to face must have made, for them, what is already a very difficult situation so much more challenging.  I know I would have been hesitant to talk to an Independent Living Advisor myself when I first had my injury and it’s something I might not have really understood the importance of until I got chatting to them.  So it’s understandable that without seeing my face in person, they may be hesitant to give me details and to open up remotely.

Not being able to fully understand or prepare for life in the community after a spinal cord injury through having some level of peer support to help, advise and guide them means that leaving rehabilitation they must have felt like they’ve been thrown in the deep end with no life jacket.  I feel that some patients who needed support most are still out there.

I have worked a lot with people in the community as they were navigating through the past year, not only having a spinal cord injury, but having to adjust to the trials of life during lockdown and the isolation that can occur.  Sometimes just a friendly voice on the other end of the phone is all it takes.  Luckily I’ve been back in the hospital for around a month now.  I’m grateful to the staff at Musgrave for their help in getting me back in.

What I have truly loved whilst working for Aspire as an Independent Living Advisor is seeing patients progress. You never leave the Spinal Injury Centre ready for what is to come but seeing the patients looking forward to the future and not fearing it - knowing that you helped get them there in some way - is why this job is so rewarding.

Will in his wheelchair with his wife and daughter

In my previous blog last year my wife was pregnant and we have since had a little girl called Florence.  She's just turned 15 months and a stubborn live wire - she never stops talking or pushing the limits!  Fatherhood is exhausting but definitely the most enjoyable thing I have ever done.  Trying to adapt to parenting with a spinal injury was a big worry for me beforehand but I can honestly say that it's been so much fun. To Florence my chair is just normal and I must have been pushed 100 miles around the house by her!

Wills daughter Florence with her buggy       Will in his wheelchair with his daughter on his lap

Since lockdown ended, life is as normal as it can be. I try to get on with things as best I can but we all live knowing how quickly things can change so I’m just living day by day right now.

Aspire's Independent Living Advisor Will talks about life in lockdown

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