Kevin’s story: Helping others live independently after spinal cord injury

Meet Kevin:  

  • A keen cosplayer 
  • Enjoys photography  
  • Passionate about content creation 

At Back Up, we offer a range of services dedicated to helping people with a spinal cord injury develop skills for living independently. Kevin, one of our volunteers, knows this well. We helped him build up the knowledge and confidence needed to live life to the full – he now says that he ”never has a dull day”!

Like anyone affected by spinal cord injury, Kevin has faced challenges while trying to live independently. Kevin sustained a T3 incomplete injury after developing a blood clot on his spinal cord when he was a baby.

Although he has lived with his injury since birth, he still encountered challenges while growing up. As a teen, he decided that he needed extra support to help him be more independent. That’s why he reached out to Back Up.

“In 2015 I got in touch with Back Up’s mentoring service. I had a broken hand at the time, and wanted some advice on how I could still use my wheelchair independently. My mentor gave me practical tips on this, as well as giving advice on things I was worrying about – like doing my bladder care routine by myself as I was getting older.”  

Most importantly, our mentoring service led to Kevin signing up for a Back Up Multi Activity Course. Not only did he have the chance to try fun outdoor activities like abseiling and kayaking, he was able to develop vital skills surrounded by a supportive community.

“By then I had recovered from the broken hand, and I was ready to put my new skills into practice. It was a great time, learning vital tips for living independently and hearing how others had moved forwards in life.”

Now, Kevin gives something back by volunteering with Back Up. Most recently he supported our Bristol City Skills course as a Group Leader. Our City Skills course is an opportunity for people to practice and improve their wheelchair skills in a safe, supportive real life environment. Participants have the chance to explore a new city while tackling challenges such as different terrains, hills, and kerbs.

Kevin says he enjoys showing people who are newly injured that they can still live a fulfilling life .   

“This course is a fun way to see what is possible after spinal cord injury. You don’t even realise how much you’re learning until you’ve done it. It’s less like a formal lesson, more of a chance to safely put your skills into practice while exploring a new city.”   

For Kevin, the highlight of the course was having the chance to talk to everyone on the final day, hearing what they got out of the course.  

“Many were able to achieve things they did not think would be possible – from getting across cobbled streets and steep inclines to getting into a restaurant independently.  

“It’s great to help people develop their skills outside of the hospital setting –including issues that you might not even think about, like knowing when to ask for help or what questions to ask.

“Having that slight real-world pressure is a great motivator to put those skills for independence into practice!” 

Back Up was founded by volunteers, and people like Kevin remain at the heart of everything we do. If you or someone close to you needs support after spinal cord injury, you can register for support here.