Lucy Duncombe: Volunteering at Back Up’s Youth Advisory Group Weekend

Partnership, Stories, Volunteering

This month of our 30th anniversary year, we are turning the spotlight on the amazing children and young people affected by spinal cord injury who help us shape and deliver our services. 

We are delighted that Active Assistance is the official sponsor of the children & young people month. They support people with complex and continuing health care needs. Their philosophy is based on the principles that each person should be enabled to live a fulfilling life to their own potential. 

Here, Lucy Duncombe, Clinical Development Manager at Active Assistance, tells a bit more about her experience volunteering at one of Back Up’s Youth Advisory Group training weekends.

Why did you decide to volunteer with Back Up on the Youth Advisory Group training weekend?

I have been privileged to work with young people with spinal cord injury for nine years now and always wanted to work with Back Up. Family commitments always got in the way but this year I promised I would commit to one event. I did not expect the Back Up bug would bite me! Instead I have joined Back Up twice this year and I have already put my name down for the Youth Advisory Group weekend in 2017.

What did you get out of the experience?   

My mind was blown! I have been a children’s nurse since 2003. In my “day job” at Active Assistance, I get to meet amazing children and young people with complex health needs or disabilities for whom every day is a challenge, but the Youth Advisory Group took it to another level.

genuinely wasn’t prepared for the amazing energy at the weekends – proof that disability isn’t a deal breaker, it’s more a change in the scenery.

My highlight will always be Beth and I performing our own “special” rendition of the classic of Fresh Prince of Bell Air to the group. We thought we were epic….alas they were all speechless. Sadly neither of us have a record contract to date!

What benefits do you see young people getting from this experience?

Life as a young person is a challenge. So many decisions, responsibilities and pressures. The Youth Advisory Group provides an open and honest forum for young people  – a chance to be part of something more than your injury. It’s  all about you and what you want to share with the group, whether that’s rugby, graphic design, wheelies or tops tips on GCSE revision.

It’s a chance to be with people on a similar journey to you, to talk about what really matters to you.

What would you say to other personal assistants who are thinking of doing something similar?

When are you free?! Genuinely the best 2 weekends of 2016. As a mum, it meant being away from my family for a weekend but when I got back home, I asked my 5-year-old how he felt about me being away. He said:

“If it makes them happy then you must feel happy too”.

I can’t say it any better myself. I gave a little but I feel I got so much more.

Top tips on getting the most out of the weekend or other Back Up courses to other PAs?

Just be yourself, come with energy and enthusiasm, and Back Up will provide the rest. We cooked, baked and laughed. Each weekend, I was supported by two Back Up team members and they were a delight to work with. The energy and passion of Back Up shines through each and every member of their team.

Inspired by Lucy’s story? Volunteer as a nurse or personal assistant on one of our courses. Email Merryn to find out more or give her a call on 020 8875 1805.