Hi, I’m Lee and I would like to tell you my story and share with you how Shaw Trust helped me get my life back on track in two very special ways.
In 2008 I was thrown through a car window and fell into a coma with internal head injuries and amnesia. I still don’t remember what happened that day. I woke up with an arm full of metal and an unknown future.
It felt like I was in the deepest, darkest hole I could imagine myself ever to be in. My head injuries removed 85% of my stamina, so I have a very little battery in my head. It’s a bit like the opposite of that well know pink bunny in the advert. My recovery was long but I am now nearly fully functioning outside of Severe Chronic Fatigue.
But it's in my blood to be enthusiastic about working, achieving and pushing myself professionally, physically and mentally. A good friend of mine said to me 'imagine there's a ladder,' so I did, and on the way up, I found Shaw Trust. I went to see them when my health allowed, fired up and ready to go.
I had a nice relaxed, unpressured chat with an adviser and we talked about my health, my work experience and possible ways forward. I didn’t make any decisions there and then; the approach was very much to help me take control of my own future and get back to work.
I now do small personal jobs late morning, a few days a week. I work with my health rather than fighting it. I sleep for 4-5 hours during the day and watch films and TV shows that I have already seen so I am not trying to work things out. New films are for very good days only! When I need to do a bigger job, I do take the hit on my health, everything has a fatigue price.
However, I am driven. I have ambition. And I realised I was winning at managing my fatigue, but something else was driving me crazy. I wanted and needed to be productive, be proud of my achievements and connect with others.
It was at this point I reached out to Shaw Trust again and offered assistance. They suggested a new home-based Web Testing volunteer role. This sounded like a great fit. I then had a chat with Graham, the manager at the Trust’s Accessibility Service, which they run as a social enterprise, helping companies understand accessibility whilst raising money for Shaw Trust, to support more clients.
The volunteer role has helped me feel affirmed, more than I have ever been since the car crash. It was like Graham didn’t see my bad health, he just saw Lee. I now volunteer from home, helping the team complete snapshot reports that highlight accessibility issues of websites of different companies. I have come full circle – I am now using my circumstances to help better the world for others who have a disability and I haven’t looked back!