“None of us know our limits until we are allowed to test them”

After commenting on a recent twitter post about his trip to Bendrigg in 1992 & 1993, we asked Mark to share his story!

 

“In the early 90’s I was a support worker, employed by an inner London borough, working in the community supporting a small group of brain injured people. The work was tough but fun, my colleagues and clients became lifelong friends. My boss Paul was a very dry-humoured Cumbrian, exiled to London, and one day he came up with the idea of a holiday at Bendrigg.”

I was utterly stunned by the setting

“Before long we were packing up the persistently unreliable minibus and making the journey up the motorway. I had never been to the Lake District before and I was utterly stunned by the setting, it was a far cry from the inner London estate we had come from. For one of our guys it was one of the first times he had ever been out of central London, it was a genuine culture shock. I remember his face as we surveyed the open spaces and huge sky.”

We did things that I did not think could be done

“Our care tasks remained the same whether we were in London or the Lakes. People needed support to wash, dress and eat etc but now we were adding activities such as canoeing, abseiling and caving to our days. We did things that I did not think could be done, people with very limited movement and even more limited opportunity, took on physical tasks that looked impossible. It was the Bendrigg staff that made the impossible possible, it was their knowledge, encouragement and belief that pushed us all, me and my colleagues included, to go beyond what we thought we could do. True bravery is wheeling yourself backwards off of an abseiling wall when you have never attempted anything like that before and you never thought you could do it; I saw that happen more than once.”

It was a week of working hard and playing hard

“I recall that the evenings were as much fun as the days. I was taught to fire-breathe, a trick I still wheel out from time to time, much to the amazement of my own children (and the horror of health and safety officers the world over); but my inability to learn how to juggle has persisted. The week flew by and, following a second visit by the nice man from the AA, we packed the van and hit the M6 South. We were all exhausted, but we had earn’t this tiredness, it was a week of working hard and playing hard. It was so hard that we booked for the following year and did it all again (as did the nice man from the AA).”

None of us know our limits until we are allowed to test them

“It is more than quarter of a century since I last visited Bendrigg Lodge, I see from photographs that the centre has expanded but has remained true to its aims of inclusion and pushing boundaries and expectations. None of us know our limits until we are allowed to test them, many of us are hesitant, needing the support of trusted people to enable us to go one step further. Bendrigg did that for my clients, my colleagues and me. In the intervening years I am sorry to say that three of my four clients and two of my five colleagues have now passed away, some of my happiest memories of them all are of being on the wind-swept hillsides or lakes near Bendrigg. I still work with people affected by brain injury.”

They taught me to see ability

“My visits to Bendrigg were amongst the hardest working weeks I have ever had but they remain the most memorable too. They taught me to see ability, they showed me what it means to work in a team and they formed a lifelong love of the outdoors. I am a city-boy but I relax by spending time in the hills. I am certain that Bendrigg has had an impact on thousands of people in a similar way and I look forward to seeing it continue to thrive and give life-changing opportunities to many.”

 

Do you have a Bendrigg Story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you! 

Make plans today, and you’ll be solid tomorrow

What People with Disabilities Need to Know About Planning for Their Financial Future – by Ed Carter

Practical self-care is something that many people with all kinds of disabilities can strive toward if they are smart about their finances. Not only can having a disability reduce your earning potential as you age, it can also increase the amount of money you’ll need to spend on medical, nursing, and custodial care. Here are some things you need to know about planning for your financial future.

Income vs. expenses

First things first: Get a handle on your budgeting (present and future). It may sound reductive to boil it all down to money in and money out, but that’s a good place to start. Knowing how much your disability costs you can help you better plan for how to fill in the financial gaps. On average, people with disabilities spend £583 more per month than their non-disabled peers.

Income includes money made through employment, government benefits, disability benefits, pensions, investment payouts, etc. Expenses are tougher to calculate because they can change rapidly — especially in terms of medical needs. It is your task to anticipate — as much as you can — your future care needs. Will you eventually need in-home nursing care? Perhaps a wheelchair? Maybe surgeries? It could be something as simple as hearing aids. Find out what your insurance will cover and then figure out ways to supplement your income.

Know your supplemental income options

Your first step is to look at your Personal Independence Payments, which range from £23.20 to £148.85 per week. Other options include adding riders to your life insurance policy, purchasing supplemental long-term care insurance, and opening a savings account to offset medical expenses. You will also want to start saving with the sole purpose of using said funds for later life care. These should be a savings funds separate from your other savings accounts, like your emergency fund for instance.

Downsizing is an option

Downsizing is an option that many with disabilities consider when they begin to approach their golden years. By moving into a smaller home and paring down your many possessions, you can not only save on your monthly mortgage, utilities, and all other home-related expenses, you will also make your daily life less stressful and put less strain on your body.

Choosing to downsize can be an emotional experience, even if it helps you stay independent as you age. If you experience sadness and trepidation, know that it’s completely normal and you can cope with it.

You need to have “The Conversation”

What conversation? The Conversation — the one you may be putting off because it’s uncomfortable or you feel you’re burdening your family. It’s the one where you make known, in no uncertain terms, your choices about your own care. There may come a time when your health care and finances need attending to and you are unable to do it on your own, so your family must be 100 percent certain of your desires.

One final word about planning for your financial future: Do what you can now to minimize your financial burden later. Many things about your disability are out of your control, but eating right, staying fit, and keeping your stress levels and mental health in check are not. Remember that your financial future is only as insecure as you allow it to be now. Make plans today, and you’ll be solid tomorrow.

 

Guest Blog written for The Bendrigg Trust by Ed Carter of AbleFutures.org

Ed is a retired financial planner and has created the Able Futures website to provide helpful financial information to members of the disabled community.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash