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Edition 17 Winter 2016

Keeping you in touch with Aspire

Welcome to the winter 2016 edition of Aspirations, in which we are delighted to announce that our InstructAbility Programme has received new funding from Sport England which will enable it to continue to give unemployed, disabled people the training, qualifications and practical experience to gain work in the leisure industry. There is also an update about our ongoing housing campaign, information about new pension rules if you employ a carer, and an article by Aspire Law about personal injury claims for people with Spinal Cord Injury. We have dedicated the centre pages to our many swimming

events, from the Aspire Channel Swim to the growing number of open water swims we offer. Read about our annual Swim Celebration Dinner and our new film which shows what taking on a Relay Channel Swim challenge entails. Every eight hours someone is paralysed by a spinal cord injury. Each year we receive over 100 grant applications from spinal cord injured people who need to purchase essential equipment to give them independence. Find out how we have helped Carl to be more independent and to be able to spend more time with his baby daughter and how you can help us support more people like him.

Temporary wheelchair accessible housing

Enabling independence through assistive technology

Grants for equipment

Independent Living

Sport England announces new funding boost for InstructAbility On 20th October 2016, Aspire’s InstructAbility Programme held their annual awards evening to celebrate the achievements of disabled fitness instructors who have graduated through the scheme and the leisure operators that have provided work placements and employment. During the evening, Sport England announced a £380,000 new funding boost which will go towards the

continuation and development of the Programme, particularly in regional areas throughout the UK. The Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, Penny Mordaunt MP, who attended the awards evening said, “I’m passionate about making sure that disabled people have every opportunity to reach their full potential. InstructAbility’s great work shows what a powerful tool sport can be in building equality.”

The guest speaker was Matrix Ambassador Joe Townsend, who spoke about his journey from Royal Marine Commando and the catastrophic injury sustained in Afghanistan that resulted in the loss of both legs, to the trials and tribulations of competing in the first ever Paralympic Triathlon in Rio. Read the full story at: sport-england-funding

Sports Quiz Dinners The Aspire Sports Quiz Dinners are the highlight of our corporate calendar and in 2016 raised over £100,000 to help people with spinal cord injuries.

In November, sporting fans of the North West came out in full force for our biggest ever Sports Quiz Dinner in Manchester, hosted by Rob Nothman,

which 280 people attended. The guest speaker was Michelle Mudhar, currently living in an Aspire house, who gave an inspiring talk about her life with a spinal cord injury after a climbing accident in 2015 left her paralysed. In June, more than 500 guests enjoyed the London Sport Quiz Dinner at the Tower of London, hosted by John Inverdale. The guest speaker was Paula Craig, who has been a supporter since coming into contact with Aspire following her injury 15 years ago. Paula also lived in an Aspire House. The 2017 London dinner will be held on Thursday 15th June at the Tower of London. If you would like to attend go to: sports-quiz-dinner-2017


Housing and Planning Bill update At the time of our last edition of Aspirations, the Housing and Planning Bill was still completing its Parliamentary journey. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of Aspire and a number of hugely supportive Parliamentarians, the Housing

and Planning Act was passed without Government taking the opportunity to tackle our country’s shrinking supply of accessible homes. Disappointing though this is, the time and effort spent working with Parliamentarians on our

amendment to the Bill wasn’t wasted. We now have a strong nucleus of cross-party support for this issue and politicians in both Houses are actively helping us to keep the question of accessible housing on the Government’s radar.

An Intolerable Situation As well as our work in Parliament, we have also been working to increase awareness of what it means to live in a home that doesn’t meet your needs when you have a spinal injury. In September we released a new video ‘An Intolerable Situation’, which features Tracey, an Aspire service user, who demonstrates the impact her

inaccessible home has on many aspects of her life. As well as being available online, Tracey’s video will be shown at events Aspire attends, and most recently was presented at a Chartered Institute of Housing conference. You can watch the film at: an-intolerable-situation

Collaboration with the RSA We are also seeking to increase awareness through a newly formed collaboration with the RSA. In June, they published a blog written by Aspire’s Policy Manager Andy Shipley, which generated a lot of interest, including an invitation from the Department of Communities and Local Government to meet the Housing Minister. We are also involved in the RSA’s 2017 Student Design Awards,

which is aimed at design students of all disciplines. We are supporting the ‘Inclusive Living’, and #HackOnWheels Challenges. ‘Inclusive Living’ invites students to design concepts for housing that can work for people of all ages and abilities, and foster more intergenerational communities. #HackOnWheels invites entrants to design a ‘visionary, customisable, usercentred wheelchair,’ that can reflect

their identity and can be adapted for their lifestyle. Whether the competition produces game-changing designs for homes and wheelchairs or not, it will have served to sow the seeds of inclusive design in the heads, hearts and hands of those who will be shaping the places and products we interact with in the future. Read more at:

EY leaders take on Aspire Wheelchair Challenge In September, EY leaders took part in the Aspire Wheelchair Challenge, which aims to help businesses understand workplaces from the perspective of a disabled worker and to raise funds for Aspire.

challenge the perceptions of disability in the workplace, be a Disability Confident organisation and unlock the talent of those with disabilities or long-term health conditions across EY.”

even patronising for some – but we developed it to challenge that thinking; we all need to get over those feelings of discomfort about disability and start talking about it more.”

Eight non-disabled volunteers, including five from EY’s UK & Ireland leadership team, spent their working day in a wheelchair, provided by London Wheelchair Rental Ltd, to raise funds for Aspire, at the firm’s London headquarters.

Yasmin Sheikh, an independent disability consultant, coach and trainer works with Aspire to deliver the challenge and is a wheelchair user herself. She said, “This initiative can seem uncomfortable – or

Read more and watch a film about the day at: ey-wheelchair-challenge

Maggie Stilwell, EY’s Managing Partner for talent, who took part in the challenge said: “Creating an inclusive workplace is a top priority for us. We want our people to be confident about being themselves at work, so they can achieve their full potential. “Disabled people have a great deal to offer our organisation; in addition to their professional skills they often have great strength and resilience. We want to


Open water swimming 2016 saw open water swimming at Aspire continue to grow, with the emphasis on our two main events, cross Channel team relays and individual Solent crossings. This year we offered our first ever two way Solent crossing - eight participants swimming both to and from the Isle of Wight. Since 2008, we have had 29 teams successfully crossing the Channel and over 200 people swimming the Solent, with many choosing to swim both events. It is always satisfying when people return to complete multiple events over a number of years as it means our swims are a mix of new and familiar faces.

In addition to their dedication in training and swimming, our 2016 swimmers have also more than surpassed expectations with their fundraising. The Channel teams have raised over £120,000, a record for six boats, and our fifty Solent swimmers have between them raised over £70,000. Along with participants at other open water swims, such as Night Swim and the Henley Classic, open water swimmers through their fundraising continue to play a huge part in shaping the lives of people with spinal cord injuries. Plans are already well under way for 2017. Our seven Channel boats are fully subscribed (it’s never too early to plan

for 2018!) and registrations for our Solent Swims are at record levels. Other events in the 2017 calendar include a return for the fabulous Loch Ness relay at the end of July, Night Swims later in the year and what we hope will be the first successful Aspire crossing of the North Channel from Ireland to Scotland, for which places are still available. We also hope to confirm other new swims in the New Year so watch this space. Whether you wish to step out of the pool for the first time, perhaps at a Great Swim event, or are ready to take on a bigger challenge, perhaps in the Solent, Aspire has a swim for you. Dive in!

Aspire Channel Swim Over 5,500 swimmers across the UK signed up to take on the 2016 Aspire Channel Swim at their local pool, swimming 22 miles in 12 weeks to raise funds for people with Spinal Cord Injury. By mid-November they had raised over £300,000 and are on track to raise £550,000, making it the biggest Aspire Channel Swim ever. After setting a target of £1,000, our top fundraiser Tom Clark (pictured) has raised over £4,300 and decided to double his distance to take on 44 miles in 12 weeks. Tom says: “I signed up for this challenge as I wanted to do something for charity


and push myself to complete a goal. After seeing what Aspire does for spinal cord injured people, I wanted to try and do more for them and raise as much money as possible. I decided to make it a bigger challenge and double the distance over 12 weeks, which is 2,832 lengths. It’s a big challenge as I haven’t swum much since I left school and I am definitely not as streamlined as I was then! I’m so excited about it, as it’s one of the first things I’ve ever done for charity.” Read Tom’s story & donate at: tomsaspirechannelswim

Relay Channel Swim film Swim celebration dinner On Saturday 19th November we held our annual Swim Celebration Dinner to celebrate the achievements of supporters who have swum for Aspire during the year. 2016 was an exceptional year, with a total of £214,332 raised from open water swim events. The success of 2016 brings the total raised from Aspire open water swims over the last eight years to £972,491, from swims across the UK and Europe. Aspire’s Andrew Ogierman and Paul Parrish thanked the swimmers and presented awards to those who swam in 2016, the top fundraisers and boat leaders.

The evening’s guest speaker was Kevin Murphy, secretary of the Channel Swimming & Pilot Federation and who, with 34 successful Channel crossings to his name, is the reigning “King of the Channel”. He entertained the guests by reading out some of the observer reports written during their swims and said to all swimmers, “You are special people, you can test the limits. Not only that but you raise all this money for this good cause Aspire." To find out more about swimming with Aspire go to:

We have produced a new film to show what it’s really like to take part in a Relay Channel Swim with Aspire. The film follows 2016’s Team Piranha as they swim from Dover to France. Watch the film at:


Swimming Dates Great North Swim 9th to 11th June Great East Swim June TBC Henley Classic Swim 25th June Great Manchester Swim July TBC Great Newham London Swim July TBC

Night Swims In 2016 over 500 swimmers dived into the dark waters of Salford Quays and Queenford Lakes in Oxford to take on the Aspire Night Swim, raising over £10,000 for Aspire. The inaugural Aspire Night Uswim in Manchester on 17th September had a fantastic party atmosphere from start to finish. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the high rise offices of Media City, over 300 swimmers lit up with glow sticks entered the dock at 9pm to swim distances of up to 3km. A DJ and hundreds of supporters lined

the banks of the Quay to make the “ultimate pool party” for swimmers. Returning to Oxford, our second Night Swim on 8th October saw swimmers dive into the dark depths of the Oxford Wakeboard & Ski Club to also complete distances of up to 5km. After leaving the shore swimmers were immersed in darkness, led only by glowing buoys marking the route and the swarm of other swimmers’ glowing heads. Find out more about Night Swimming at:

Aspire Loch Ness Relay 29th July Aspire Solent Swims August/September Great Scottish Swim August TBC Aspire Relay Channel Swims June/July/August/September Aspire Night Swims September/October Aspire Channel Swim September to December For a full list of events go to


Personal injury claims after Spinal News in Brief Mordaunt MP visits Aspire Cord Injury by James Wood, Solicitor and Managing Director of Aspire Law Penny In September, Penny Mordaunt MP,

With any spinal cord injury (SCI) the effects on activities of daily living can be catastrophic. With a spinal cord injury an individual can experience significant difficulties with mobility, problems accessing accommodation, issues with transport and barriers to work. It follows, therefore, that in any SCI claim the claimant will seek to recover from the defendant the cost of care/assistance, a suitable property, an adapted vehicle and lost earnings; in the event the claimant is unable to return to work. There will certainly be other aspects too, which cumulatively can add up to many millions of pounds worth of damages. It may seem obvious that such a seismic change in a person’s situation would warrant a very significant damages award.

But what if you’re already spinal cord injured and you have an accident, causing injury? Whilst you may already be in receipt of some care and assistance, and living in an adapted property, your requirements may change. For example, were a person with an SCI to break an arm it could mean the difference between self care and not, or being able to work or not. Whilst the implications of a broken arm for an able bodied person may be relatively slight, for a person with SCI the effects could be huge; requiring a


Dates for your diary Virgin Money London Marathon 23rd April London Sports Quiz Dinner 15th June Prudential RideLondon 100 30th July Aspire Corporate Golf Day September TBC Manchester Sports Quiz Dinner November TBC For a full list of events go to

significant change of routine and causing substantial financial loss as a consequence.

As anyone with a spinal cord injury will know, SCI is a specialised area. The condition requires expert knowledge and management (which most of us are fortunate to receive from one of the excellent Spinal Injury Centres throughout the UK). The same can be said of any SCI claim, which needs to be handled by an expert SCI lawyer. At Aspire Law we have a team of highly skilled and experienced SCI lawyers, with a proven track record of successful claims. Aspire Law also has the benefit of a close working relationship with the charity Aspire. As such we can pool our significant resources to ensure the very best outcome for claimants. Aspire Law is the only law firm that has this facility. Also we ensure that you receive 100% of damages with no deductions whatsoever; again unique to Aspire Law. If you would like to talk to us about a potential personal injury claim please call us on 08000 30 20 40 or email us on

Do you employ carers directly? If you employ carers directly, even just one, do you know about the new Pensions rules? You now have the legal responsibility to provide your carers with access to a pension scheme and to make contributions to the pension on their behalf, otherwise you will be fined up to £500 per day. Frenkel Topping and Opus Group have teamed up with Aspire to develop a low cost, easy to manage solution which enables individual employers to set up compliant pension schemes effectively and efficiently on a fixed fee basis. Aspire supporters can get a 20% discount on the cost of setting up a new pension scheme. For a free no obligation discussion about your options call 0161 886 8000 or email Further information can be found at:


Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, visited Aspire to meet with InstructAbility graduates and to learn about the services that Aspire offers to spinal cord injured people. Read the full story at: Aspire Housing continues to expand We have agreed an additional four properties which will all be opening shortly. We now have 57 houses and aim to have 100 by 2020. Assistive Technology Conference In October we held our annual Assistive Technology Conference which gives healthcare professionals and our volunteers the opportunity to find out about a variety of access options for computers, tablets, phones and other mobile technology. Read the full story at: Run for Aspire Want to take on a running challenge in 2017? Why not take on your local, 5k, 10k or half marathon for Aspire? Find out more at: Change to permitted work rules From Spring 2017 there will be a change in the permitted work rules for people claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA). If you claim ESA you are allowed to work up to 16 hours and earn up to £115.50 per week after tax for a maximum of 52 weeks. However, from Spring 2017 there will no limit on the number of weeks you can do permitted work for. Thanks to Wellspect We’d like to thank Wellspect for continuing to sponsor our e-newsletters. Sign up to receive them at: New Services brochures We have recently updated our existing brochures for Aspire Grants, Aspire Housing, Assistive Technology and Independent Living and we have a brand new brochure which has an overview of all of our services. Download them on our website at:

Spinal Day Over 120 people attended the 2016 Spinal Day at the Aspire Leisure Centre in Stanmore on Saturday 17th September. The aim of the day was for spinal cord injured people and their friends and families to be able to talk to experts and charities and to be able to see the latest products and equipment available to

them. The event was sponsored by Active Assistance, Cyclone and SIA Healthcare. The event has received outstanding feedback, 92% of those who attended saying that the day was useful to them. Comments included that they “found out more information here than anywhere else” and that it was “so amazing I would

drive 150 miles to get here.” Exhibitors also found the day extremely useful, calling it “fantastic”, “wonderful” and “worthwhile”. One exhibitor said, “I was surprised at how many people had the courage to open up about issues that they had held onto for many years and not known who to ask about them.”

Welfare Benefits Advice Service tribunal success In 2016 our Welfare Benefits Advice Service won ten tribunals, supporting spinal cord injured people with their Appeal cases for their awards of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that they were entitled to but were not receiving or had lost following a review of their claim. By winning these tribunals we have helped people regain and sustain their independence through increased income and enabling them to either

access the Motability Scheme or to keep their motability vehicle and Blue Badges that they would otherwise have lost.

Living Component or the Mobility Component. After the successful outcome of the tribunal Carol said,

One of our clients, Carol, needed our help because she had been in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the highest rate for the Mobility Component and middle rate for the Care Component. She had been invited to make a claim for PIP as her DLA was due to end, but when a decision was made about her claim she was not awarded any points for the Daily

“Following the tribunal’s decision I have received the letter regarding my arrears and future payments into my account. Arrears from 20 January 2016 to 14 July 2016 total £2,845.90 and £450.20 every four weeks. This will enable me to keep my motability car and my Blue Badge. Thank you for all your help.”


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Help us clear the Aspire Grants waiting list There are currently 35 people on our grants waiting list who require £50,000 in total to be able to purchase essential equipment that will help them move from injury to independence. Last year you helped us give £113,615 in Aspire Grants to people who needed assistance purchasing specialist equipment. This transformed the lives of 84 people paralysed by Spinal Cord Injury and their families. You enabled Carl to move on from his injury to become an adventurous new dad Carl was 32 when he skidded on mud throwing him off into a ditch at the side of the road. He instantly couldn’t feel his legs and was paralysed from the chest down. Carl applied for an Aspire Grant to help him purchase an electric Batec hand bike so that he would be able to get around independently when he returned home. After months of

operations and treatment Carl moved back home permanently with his partner and decided to start a family. Carl told us: “When I found out I’d been successful in part-funding for the bike, it made me feel like ‘wow’, just an amazing feeling. If I’d not been successful, I’d have had to wait a couple of years before being able to afford one myself. “Since receiving the grant from Aspire and getting the bike, life has turned itself around. It gives me far more independence. I can ‘nip’ to the shops, and go virtually anywhere I choose. I can even go out in the dark and the best part is having the freedom to take my daughter out at the same time as directing my wheelchair. This gives me the ability to connect with Sienna and have precious one-on-one time with her without worrying about anything else. I am looking forward to exploring new places with my daughter.” We currently have 35 people just like Carl on our Grants waiting list who urgently need specialist equipment to help them move on from their injury.

Your donation can transform the life of someone with a spinal cord injury so that they can live a fulfilled and independent life. Give your support today A donation towards our Aspire Grants programme could enable someone to handle everyday tasks on their own – go back to work, take their children to school or even simply enable them to leave their house on their own for the first time in months. Your donation will not only transform the life of someone with a spinal cord injury but their friends and families as well.

Can you help us to provide spinally injured people with help and advice that will give them back their independence? If you would like to contribute, please complete the form below and return it, along with a cheque made out to Aspire, to: Freepost Plus RTTG-YXZL-LZBH, Aspire National Training Centre, Wood Lane, Stanmore HA7 4AP. Alternatively, you can donate online at or text a donation of up to £10 by texting HELP03 £3 (or £5 or £10) to 70070

I’d like to I’d like to support Aspire support Aspire Title Title First Name First Name Surname Surname

Please accept my gift of: Please accept my gift of: £10 £25 £50

other: £ other: £

Method of payment Method of payment

I enclose a cheque/postal order made payable to Aspire I enclose a cheque/postal order made payable to Aspire

Address Address

Postcode Postcode Email Email

Aspire will not pass on your details to any other organisation. Aspire will not pass on your details to any other organisation. We would like to keep you informed about the work you are We would like to keep you informed about the work you are helping make possible. If you do not wish to receive any further helping make possible. If you do not wish to receive any further information from Aspire, please contact the Fundraising Team on information from Aspire, please contact the Fundraising Team on 020 8954 5759 or email 020 8954 5759 or email

Make your gift worth more at no extra cost Make your gift worth more at no extra cost We can claim an extra 25p for every £1 donated! We can claim an extra 25p for every £1 donated!

Yes, I am happy for all gifts of money that I have made to Aspire Yes, forand all gifts of money I have made Aspire in theI am pasthappy 4 years all future giftsthat of money that I to make to be Gift Aid donations in the past 4 years and all future gifts of money that I make to be Gift Aid donations I declare that I pay an amount of income tax and/or capital gains tax, that is at least equal to or higher than I declare that I pay an amount of income tax and/or capital gains tax, that is at least equal to or higher than the tax claimed by all charities and CASCs from HM Revenue & Customs on my donation(s) in each tax the tax claimed by all charities and CASCs from HM Revenue & Customs on my donation(s) in each tax year. I also understand that taxes such as VAT and Council Tax do not qualify. Aspire will reclaim 25p of tax year. I also understand that taxes such as VAT and Council Tax do not qualify. Aspire will reclaim 25p of tax on every £1 you give. on every £1 you give.

Aspire, Wood Aspire, WoodLane, Lane,Stanmore, Stanmore,Middlesex MiddlesexHA7 HA74AP 4AP Call: 020 8954 5759 Email: Call: 020 8954 5759 Email:

Please contact of this this newsletter. newsletter. Please contactususfor foraalarge largeprint print(non-formatted) (non-formatted) version version of Association for Spinal Injury Research, Rehabilitation and Reintegration. Registered Company No. 3744357. Registered Charity No. 1075317. Scottish Registered Charity No. SC037482.

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Aspirations winter 2016  
Aspirations winter 2016