Rebuilding Lives Festival 2023 – celebrating the work the SIA does
Last week a few of us got the opportunity to attend the second SIA Rebuilding Lives festival in the amazing Library of Birmingham. It was a fantastic day; filled with informative seminars and the opportunity to meet people connected with the charity. The event raised awareness of spinal cord injuries as well as the superb work the SIA do.
We arrived in the morning and had a mooch around the exhibitor stalls, meeting people who help spinally injured people such as nurses, case managers and property adapters.
We were lucky enough to be given a sneak peek of the SIA’s seven year plan, introduced by Nik Hartley (the SIA’s CEO). The 2030 strategy implements the SIA’s vision of a fulfilled life for everyone affected by a spinal cord injury and sets out three goals; a health and care system that works for spinal cord injured people, double the number of spinal cord injured members accessing all the support and advocacy they need and a UK government and public championing of spinal cord injured people and their families.
The keynote speaker was Jonathan Goodwin, he gave a powerful talk about how he sustained his injury and the road to recovery thereafter. As a former stuntman and now positive thinker, hypnotherapist and writer his story was an incredible stoic approach to life’s challenges.
The first seminar was around mental health and we were introduced to the SIA’s southeast transformational project. We then heard from Damien Smith who advised us on the suspected Cauda Equina Syndrome Pathway. Many of our clients with CES have unfortunately been failed by healthcare professionals not following this pathway and this talk really resonated with us. Suzanne MacLeod, an SIA member, bravely told us her story of the lack of care she received when she had suspected CES and the impact this had on the development of her spinal cord injury.
The third seminar for the day was an introduction to the SIA’s new campaign – This is #Serious SH1T. This aims to improve the bowel care received by those with a spinal cord injury. We heard from Jerry Ward, who has led an incredibly exciting life as a pilot; a great storyteller we were all on the edge of our seats! He is also an SIA member and part of this important campaign, his video can be found here.
The final seminar was a panel discussion involving various members of the SIA running through their involvement with clients from hospital to home. It was a really interesting insight into the whole life of the SIA’s involvement with their clients and how they are able to help. Importance was placed on the healthcare system needing to be educated in order to assist spinal injured people more effectively.
After a day of seminars everyone was ready to relax with a drink, listen to a great live band and cross their fingers for the raffle and auction. Overall, it was a wonderful day and we can’t wait to come back next year!