Back Up was founded by volunteers and volunteering remains at the heart of everything we do. The contribution of our team of over 400 volunteers is felt throughout the whole organisation in all aspects of our work. Our volunteers lead our residential courses, run wheelchair skills sessions, fundraise for us, and develop and support our work in so many ways. They have varied ages, come from a wide range of backgrounds, possess unique and diverse skills, and are all united by a common passion to transform the lives of people affected by spinal cord injury. Here you can read the stories of three of our amazing volunteers.
Rosie first got involved with Back Up in 2015 when she attended a residential course in Exmoor. She returned from that week with renewed energy to tackle daily challenges and also motivated to get more involved with Back Up as a volunteer mentor. ‘‘I am now mentoring regularly and find it both challenging and rewarding. I was nervous to begin with but there’s always someone at the end of the phone at Back up willing to listen to you and offer guidance. Back up has played a big part in supporting me so it feels great to be able to start giving something back.’’ That’s why Rosie also decided to take on the Snowdon Push this Summer to raise funds for our work. She will be accompanied up the mountain by her all-female ‘Women of Altitude’ team which includes her two daughters, Beth and Eve. She regularly attends park runs, hold fundraising events and even went on the radio – all to reach her sponsorship goal and raise awareness of what we do. She truly is a fantastic volunteer.
Damian, a spinal injury nurse, first volunteered on a residential course in 2010 and hasn’t stopped since. He said: “I had been aware of Back Up for many years but kept finding excuses not to volunteer with them. I wished I hadn`t waited so long as it was so exhilarating and inspiring. The enthusiasm and motivation of the groups are completely infectious. We all go through a personal journey and everyone is taken out of their comfort zone. As well as helping and encouraging participants, I take part in all the activities alongside them. But the real buzz is to see such a boost in everyone’s confidence and meeting great people. The courses truly are life-changing for all involved. As a volunteer it challenged me and pushed me to try new things. Volunteering with Back Up has broadened my outlook as to what is achievable following a spinal cord injury, not just the physical impact but the psychological effect too. I’ve now trained as a group leader.”
Ali trained as a Back Up mentor in 2014 and has mentored 13 people and counting. As a mentor Ali is the sounding board for all the things a mentee doesn’t want to talk about to their partner or their family. He’s the person who can really say “I know how you feel”. Mentoring is Ali’s way of giving back, and it helps him reflect on his journey and see how far he’s come. Ali says, “my spinal cord injury made me realise just how important good things and good people are. I enjoy life more now.” As a mentor Ali has support from the mentoring team in the office and says they really take the pressure off him. He adds, “knowing they’re there is a massive help, they can take over support for a mentee at any time.”
If you want to learn more about our volunteers, you can read their stories on our dedicated blog page.