David’s story: Getting support to return to work after my spinal cord injury

David is wearing a white t shirt and smiling at the camera

Thirty-year-old David loves sports and is a big rugby fan.

“I love going to the gym and exercising as I did before my accident,” he says. “It’s a bit different now I’m in a wheelchair, but I still love it.”

“I had my spinal cord injury accident in March 2014. I was working on a roof, which collapsed and I fell about 10 metres. I broke my back and suffered a head injury.”

“I was in the National Spinal Injuries Centre in Stoke Mandeville Hospital. I had half my skull removed, and my spinal injury is T6-T7 complete. It was a massive life-changing event.”

“The staff in the centre were all amazing. They helped me deal with it both physically and mentally.”

“It was in the hospital that I met Back Up. They were there to offer advice, speak to patients and give us a lived perspective of what life is like with a spinal cord injury. They offered to show us some wheelchair skills, which was great! It was brilliant to see what an active user you can be and what you can do in a wheelchair.”

Getting the confidence, knowledge and skills to get back into work

“Since I left the hospital, I’ve got back to my life. I set up my own property development company. I wanted to understand it better, so I decided to do a master’s degree in quantity surveying, which I’ll finish in March 2023.”

“I joined the Skills for Work course because I wanted to understand the best way of disclosing my disability in applications and for the interview process. The course was great for motivation and getting real support with working with a spinal cord injury.”

“Back Up also had industry professionals and recruitment experts on the course, which was massively helpful. While I know a lot about the construction world, it was helpful to hear from the experts on the best way to talk about disability in a positive light.”

“They spoke about how businesses don’t need to fear hiring a person who uses a wheelchair.”

“They highlighted some challenges you may face and how you can overcome these, which I found very helpful.”

Smashing the stereotype about wheelchair users

“The Back Up staff can give you lived experience, so speak to them. Life is still good after spinal cord injury, so don’t dig yourself into a hole. I’m probably more ambitious and active now because life is short, and you have to get out there. If someone has an opinion of people in a wheelchair, go out there and smash that opinion.”

“We were all aiming for different career paths on the course and the support we got was amazing. I spoke to Back Up’s vocation coordinator who made an amazing connection for me with Savills [a leading property agent]. I landed a one-week placement with them, only a short time after the course!”

“I would 100% recommend the Skills for Work course. You’ll get to speak to different people in recruitment and people in a similar situation to you. The aftercare is amazing and Back Up helps you find connections and supports you. I couldn’t recommend it more!”

Are you looking to get back into employment or volunteering after spinal cord injury? Find out more about how we can support you.