Busy Times Ahead!

As the last few months have been so busy, I thought it was time for an update on a slightly quieter day whilst enjoying some of this fabulous weather. That thought alone is something I’m particularly pleased with as after 7 long years my air con unit in the living room has finally proved to be good value for money!

May saw me flying off all over the country – 1300 miles in fact – a significant test not only for me, but also the stamina of my 23 year old car, which in the last 6 months has needed several emergency treatments replacing both the clutch and starter motor. In spite of this and the odd reliability issues with warming up on a few cooler mornings, it’s still working out to be cheaper than a Motability option which I’ll probably end up switching to at the latter end of this year.

Two of my visits were to SIA House in Milton Keynes attending the Funding and Managing Your Care Needs Master Class. With my involvement in the Yorkshire area both with Social Care providers, volunteer groups and the numerous presentations I’ve given all based around similar topics, they’ve asked if I’d be willing to come on board as a Trainer and help with the delivery and development of that programme. Given the powerful impact that I know this can have on other individuals in a similar position to mine, I’m always glad to help so I’m presently going through that application process. Part of the requirement was that I attend the course to see an established trainer giving the workshop and even though I’ve had this injury for nearly 15 years I’m still surprised by how much I’m learning.

I never knew why I liked my flat to be 2 degrees warmer than anyone else but it’s a condition called “Poikilothermia“, or low core body temperature. Anyone with an SCI has an average body temperature of around 36.3C, half a degree lower than you “average lot”. It certainly explains why we are more sensitive to temperature changes when we have half a degree less to play with if you consider that you only have to be around 35.5C to be considered hypothermic. I learned loads more too but I’d be here all day if I were to go through them all; suffice to say I’ll definitely be utilising that cracker the next time I go for a triple word score on Scrabble!

Work between Free To Live Leeds and Bradford College continues to strengthen and grow as we engage with their student social workers. As part of their ongoing course development, we were invited to take part in a validation event as their course was audited by an independent and external panel of experts and professionals. I happened to be the only service user who turned up, but (despite my bias) felt that they had the best person there. After explaining both my own background, the history of our group and how we’ve engaged with the College over the last few years, we discussed future plans and some of my ideas for how technology can help, not only at Bradford but any establishment offering such a course. There was significant interest from several members of the panel, which has now led to follow up meetings and potential work with both Manchester and Leeds universities. These account for several of my other recent travel escapades and the future is looking very promising for working with both.

One further contact as a result of my meeting in Manchester led to me presenting to a group of 70 year 9 students at Rishworth School near Halifax. As part of their PHSE studies they’re covering disability as a module so I was asked to come in and chat with them about what life is like with a spinal cord injury, interact and engage with them and challenge some of their preconceptions about what “disability” actually means. I had a great time doing that and thoroughly enjoyed the experience (especially some of the interaction where, for example I asked how many wheelchair users there are in the UK and one girl very innocently said “10?”). The feedback that I’ve had so far (and will put up on here soon) suggests that they all enjoyed it as much too, so I’m hopeful and optimistic that over the coming months there will be many more presenting opportunities!


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