“One of the most enjoyable and satisfying weeks of my life was the first Back Up course that I volunteered on during my gap year.” Tom is now 31 and working as an osteopath. He has volunteered as a buddy on a multi activity course, and another skiing course to Sweden in January this year.
Tom volunteers because, “It's a really enjoyable way to meet some fantastic people and get outside doing fun stuff. I’m there to do whatever needs to be done by helping everyone else with whatever they need. So fetching, carrying, cutting up food, making cups of tea, assisting participants in and out of their wheelchairs and in to ski karts or kayaks, boats, and abseiling harnesses.”
Feedback about Tom from his fellow volunteers and people with spinal cord injury is consistently excellent. Adrian, a spinal cord injured participant said: “Tom is friendly and likeable with a good understanding of the needs of people with spinal cord injury. He was always willing to help when needed but without compromising my independence. Tom didn’t jump in to do things for me without asking first or unless I asked for help. When I needed help pushing my chair when my arms were tired Tom would not start pushing unless he was sure I wanted him too.”
Tom has many favourite moments from volunteering, and Vince, another spinal cord injured participant, recounts one of them that took place in Sweden this year; “I looked up at the waterslide which had many steps to the top. I asked him "Do you think, with some help, I would be able to go down the slide?", while imagining all sorts of risk assessment forms needing to be filled in. But his immediate response was "No problem, we can do that." And we did!”