Today is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day, an annual event run by the Spinal Injuries Association, Aspire, Back Up and Spinal Research that intends to raise awareness of spinal cord injury and highlight the challenges people with spinal cord injuries face every single day.
This year, following the pandemic and a period of time when everyone’s world has changed irrevocably, the day is focussing on how people with spinal cord injuries and their families have dealt with the increased challenges they’ve faced throughout the Coronavirus crisis.
Spinal cord injury is devastating for every person. In a split second, you can lose your independence, your freedom and perhaps your reason for staying alive.
Whilst the isolation people with spinal injuries experience has been significantly magnified by the pandemic, barriers with accessibility, lack of access to care and the general stigma around being disabled all mean that isolation is part of people’s everyday life.
With mental health challenges hitting an all-new high throughout society in the wake of the past year, Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day is shining a spotlight on how people with spinal cord injuries have managed their mental health and coped with the continued, enhanced isolation the pandemic has controlled.
All four charities are doing everything they can to support their members, helping them to overcome the daily challenges disabled people face, just as we do in each Horatio’s Garden across the UK.
As many of you will know, last week also marked the Mental Health Foundation’s ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’, with this year’s theme being Nature on account of the explosion in widespread public interest and reliance on green spaces as a source of physical and psychological support.
With a growing body of research attesting to the myriad health benefits of being outside, the importance of our stunning sanctuaries in NHS spinal cord injury centres across the UK has come to be understood by a vast new audience.
Moreover, the Coronavirus outbreak illustrated more than ever that patients with spinal cord injuries, their loved ones and the NHS staff working in spinal centres throughout the country need natural spaces to spend time in, either alone, or in the company of others facing similarly difficult situations.
Horatio’s Garden has been a lifeline for so many people throughout the pandemic, therefore to show our support for this year’s Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day, we’d like to share just a few quotes from patients who have recently found solace in nature, gardening, creativity, friendship and the vibrant sense of community awaiting everyone in our horticultural havens.
“The garden has been invaluable. It has been a saviour to me in times of need and emotional moments. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve bathed in sunshine and made many new friends, lots of whom I’ll keep forever.”
“I can’t tell you how important Horatio’s Garden has been for me. I love being outside and it has made the world of difference. I’m out here every day and every day is different.”
“Horatio’s Garden is a place where you can forget about what’s going on around you. Forget Covid-19, forget not seeing my family, forget I have a spinal cord injury.”
“A lovely place to relax in and watch the wildlife pass by, as well as to sit and chat to other patients. It’s made my recovery a lot easier.”
“I solemnly swear that Horatio’s Garden, as well as the garden room, has and still continues to be a place of peace, not only offering a piece of cake, but a slice of mind!”
“It’s amazing how different you can feel going from one environment to another. That’s why I’m always happy when physios say ‘Let’s go to the garden for wheelchair training’, even when it’s cold outside!”
“I highly recommend the craft sessions, especially to anyone for managing pain – it’s a great pain diversion. I loved learning new skills to take home with me and there are always friendly people waiting to welcome everyone.”
“I always feel 100% better when I come out here.”
We hope you all have a wonderful day celebrating Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day 2021.