Frequently asked questions about Back Up’s children and young people services

Courses

Do I have to pay for a course?
We allocate places based on need. We never allocate places on courses based on ability to pay. If you are in a position to contribute towards the cost of the course we welcome your donation. The suggested donation for our youth courses is £330. Please get in touch with Andy or Merryn in our courses team on 020 8875 1805 to discuss donations.

Can I bring someone with me?
On the Under 13s activity course, you can bring a parent or carer with you. Depending on space, you may be able to bring a brother or sister too. On the 13-17 multi activity course we encourage you to come along without a parent or brother or sister, as we know from young people’s experiences that you get more from the course by coming independently. Our youth advisors wanted to have the option of bringing along a friend, so do talk to us about this if you want to. You can chat to Ella on 020 8875 1805.

Can I bring my care team with me?
Depending on your injury level, we encourage you to try out working with our care team. All nurses and PAs that work with us on our courses are fully qualified to support people with a spinal cord injury. We support you before the course, making sure you feel comfortable working with someone new. Young people tell us this experience has helped them become more independent: you don’t have to rely on just one person anymore. There are situations where we recommend bringing your own care team – like if you need a ventilator to breathe.

Do I have to share a room?
On our 13-17s activity course, young people do share rooms with each other (maximum in a room is three). We always talk through any anxieties you have about sharing with someone you don’t know. Many young people tell us they learnt so much from their room mates and managing their personal care in that environment helped them to feel more independent.

Talking to someone

Is this in person or on the phone?
Speaking to someone who understands what you are going through and can offer a listening ear, mainly happens over the telephone. Sometimes, if location allows, people can meet up in a public place, but Back Up staff or volunteers would not visit you in your home.

Wheelchair skills

Which wheelchair skills sessions can I attend?
If you are currently in a spinal cord injury centre then our wheelchair skills sessions (indoor) at that centre are available to you. If you have left the centre and are back home then you can come along to our wheelchair skills extra sessions that happen in and around towns near the spinal injury centres. We run manual and power chair sessions depending on what type of chair you use. If you are in a general hospital then please call us and we will work something out so that you get the skills you need.

When do the wheelchair skills sessions take place?
This depends on which centre you go to. The indoor sessions tend to be in the week and some of the wheelchair skills extra sessions outside take place on the weekend. Please phone us and we can tell you more.

Can I bring someone to a wheelchair skills session?
You can bring someone along to watch or even help you practice your skills by supporting you in your wheelchair. All our volunteers are trained to make sure that the people helping understand how to best support you in safely practicing a range of skills.

Support at school

What will a school advocate say if they talk to my student peers or teachers?
We will always talk to you first before talking to your teachers and peers about spinal cord injury. We will never share any information that you don’t want disclosed or talk about anything that might make you feel uncomfortable. It is important that you decide what the school need to know about your injury, whether this be a general overview of what it is or how it has affected you personally. If you want to be involved in sharing information and talking to others about it then that is fine too – you really are in control!

How soon can you arrange a visit to the school?
We will always do our best to arrange a visit as soon as needed, even if that is for the next day. It is more helpful to have a few weeks to prepare as this gives us time to find a school advocate and discuss with you how they can best support your needs.

Do the school visits cost?
No, we do not charge for visits. It is important to us that all schools, children and young people and their families can access the support that they need to ensure a fully inclusive education. Several schools have chosen to fundraise following on from our support, but that is always their decision. If a school would like to fundraise or donate please email Kat our Community fundraiser or call her on 0208 8875 1805.

Do you only offer support for students at school?
We offer support for children and young people at nursery, school and college. We have also offered support to students at university level as well. If you are not feeling included in your education or you are a professional keen to make sure that your student is included, then do talk to us and we can work out a way to support you.

Helping others

What ways can I volunteer?
There are many different ways to volunteer with us! You could become a Youth Advisor to have your say on the services we offer and to help influence how we support children and young people with spinal cord injury. You may want to help group lead on a course, teach wheelchair skills to others or come and visit our office to gain some work experience! If you want to have a chat about volunteering, chat to Ella on 020 8875 1805. You can also have a look at our volunteering page to find out more.

Can I be a group leader having not been on a course?
It’s helpful to have been on a course before becoming a group leader because you have a better understanding of what it is about. Do contact us to have a chat about this though and we can talk about other experience you may already have. You can call Ella on 020 8875 1805.

Can I be a wheelchair skills trainer?
If you feel confident getting about in your wheelchair and would like to help other children and young people feel the same, you could be our next young wheelchair skills trainer! We usually run our training at the beginning of the year. To find out more please chat to Ella on 020 8875 1805.

Contact

If you have any further questions that aren’t answered above, please email Ella or give her a call on 020 8875 1805.