“My Back Up mentor is Faye. She’s really cool and we have a lot of fun chatting over the phone about our experiences and day to day life. I’ve found her calls really helpful and she phones me once a week to chat about how my week's been. Sometimes if something isn’t going as smooth as I want it to go, she helps me to sort it out and it really boosts my confidence.”
Laura May contacted Back Up following her spinal cord injury in 2005. With the help of a mentor and a multi-activity course Laura has been making great progress. Here Laura tells us how and why her attitudes have altered since talking to her mentor and what she has achieved from the relationship.
"My name is Laura, I’m 17yrs old and live in Lancashire with my Mum and Dad. I was injured due to an operation on my back that went wrong and I’m now T4/T6 complete paraplegic.
Starting High school is a daunting experience without having the added extra of a wheelchair to the whole new academic world that faces you! I didn’t know anyone at school because I’d recently moved house before my accident. And by year 8, I was settled into school but didn’t really have many friends.
I told Eric and Sam at Back Up about this problem and they recommended me to have a mentor. I thought this was a great idea because I would be able to talk to someone who had been in a similar situation as me and I could ask them for advice about what I should do to help improve how things were going at school.
My Back Up mentor was Faye. We decided that the biggest problem between me and some of my peers at school was that they didn’t understand why I was in a wheelchair and what it was actually like, being in one. Faye and I decided I should do a presentation at school. I explained what a spinal cord injury was and how it changed the way you have to live your life. I also went into great detail about how the world doesn’t end when you become paralysed and that my first Back Up course in Keswick in 2007 showed me this! I’d recommend young people to be mentored even if it’s only about little everyday things that are annoying you or you want to help your friends understand you, and arguably more importantly, for you to understand how they feel towards you and your injury. Sometimes it can be really frustrating when you don’t have anyone to talk to that actually fully understands and knows what you’re on about, with a Back Up mentor, you do!
I now attend Winstanley College and I’m just about to go into my second year of A levels. I have lots’ of friends and I’ve found it much easier to settle in at college than at school. I honestly believe that the mentoring I had from Back Up and the presentation I did all those years ago has helped me grow into a confident young person who lives life to the full. I even went on a college trip to New York in April!"