A fresher start to the day today which involved me starting in my power chair for a `st-roll` up to the wooded area to meet with some bird conservation guys who essentially catch birds, ring their leg and keep diaries about the different birds they catch. This gives them the information to get ideas on numbers of species and how they’re body mass alters through the seasons. It is really clever how they do it, and more clever with how they are aware of certain types of bird’s presence simply by the sound they make. The mist was hanging in the dawn air this morning making everything damp including the nets used to catch the birds. The water droplets can give the net away if the light catches them right and so the net must be shaken periodically to release the droplets and make the net `invisible` once more. There were only a few of us which took part in the `st-roll` this morning which didn’t really matter as it was not a practical session. The birds were not flying while we were there, possibly relating to the extreme mist and so at 08.00 we returned to the house for breakfast, and Jenny would let us know if any birds were caught so that we could go back to the wooded area to look and watch what the bird guys did.
Breakfast was too much of a temptation this morning, possibly something to do with the fresh air and so I succumbed to the full English with a cup of tea, very bad I know, but very nice! I stayed in my power chair as I wanted to return to the wooded area before the guys left and I had a meeting nearby. Unsure of how the meeting would go or how long it would take I thought that the best thing to do would be to remain in the chair rather than swap a couple of times which may result in my missing the opportunity to revisit the woods. We had the daily review at 09.00 as usual and a quick discussion about the trip to the sledge hockey, a trip which I would not be participating in due to more meetings, meetings which I had to go to in case they would help me and my current situation. The first meeting was with a psychologist. Now I almost saw a councillor in the past many of you will remember but I cancelled before the appointment date as I really was happy that I was coping with the whole life change. I had been made an appointment by the recovery team here at Tedworth House and if I thought I needed something or not, it would be really rude and ungrateful for me not to at least try the meetings that they had gone to the trouble of setting up for me. I entered the building which had a small lobby area with a water cooler and a few chairs and a very short while after I had rolled in, a really nice lady walked in to meet me and showed me to a room where we would talk. I really had no idea how this would go and so simply went with it. I had of course talked to Lisa my `case worker` earlier in the week and had said a few things which surprised me but I thought that this would be done now, but let us see where this goes.
The lady asked a few questions and I answered them honestly, a couple more questions and again I answered, and then there was an open ended question….over an hour later we emerged from the room. I surprised myself at the things I spoke about but speak about them I did. At the end of me bumping my gums I just sat and thought about some of things I had said, some of the things I had said were a surprise to me but they were in there to be said and the lady had somehow got me to say them, without me knowing that the things were there to be said in the first place, confusing for you? Confusing for me! She has booked another two meetings for me which she clearly thinks I need to have and to be honest I felt, well, lighter when I left the building. I don’t know if that makes sense to you or not, I am trying to think of another way of describing it. It is like when you have a really big secret that you cannot tell ANYONE but then when others show that they also know the secret you can all talk about it and it is no longer a burden, I am not sure if that will help you understand or not but that is how it was…I think. I quickly rolled up to the wooded area to see if they had caught any birds but was unable to find the guys we had spoken to in the morning which was a bit of a blow, but maybe next time.
I returned to the house and went to my room to change out of my power chair and in to my manual chair for the rest of the day, then it was time for a cup of tea in the library and was approached by another of the staff whose name I can’t remember which is really bad as I talk to him lots, but he told me that the guy from BLESMA was in the house and that he had arranged a meeting for me. Sadly this would mean that I would miss my scheduled Yoga session but the meeting had to take precedence. To that end I headed to the cafe and got another cup of tea and waited in the conservatory end of the cafe for the guy to arrive. Before he arrived, Amy came and joined me, Amy is another of my `case workers` if you like. I am possibly selling her a bit short there, I think she is actually more of my coordinator but anyway. A short while later the BLESMA guy and, (I’m going to say Rob in the hope that it is right and hold my head in shame if it is not), arrived and he asked me some questions and asked me to explain a few things for him. He was not overly happy about some of the things that have happened or not happened as the case may be and agreed with my praise for SSAFA and the RBL for looking after my family and I at the very start of this whole saga. I told of the financial support received from the ABF, Just Rifles and Care for Casualties and gave him an insight in to how we have fortunately been helped. The outcome of the meeting was that he wanted for me to join BLESMA as they were another organisation that was there to help me. Another genuinely nice guy who is part of an organisation that I was unaware could assist me, and would have remained unaware had it not been for the staff here at Tedworth House helping me.
Meeting over and lunch consumed, (that’s right, lunch as well!), it was time for another meeting with another organisation who had been contacted about my “wobble”. I spoke with the guy here for a good while, going over some of the things that I had previously discussed but he asked about other things as well, he asked more direct questions which I could either swerve or answer and as as swerving was part of the bloody reason I had my “wobble” in the first place I simply answered. The answers I gave made my eyes open at times but it was good that I had answered honestly, I know it was honest because I did not think about the answers; what a shock eh? George’s mouth going off without any thought! (Just for those who know me).
The remainder of the afternoon I spent filling out forms and chatting to other residents in the library about various things until Amy came in to see how my meetings had gone today. She looked over one of my forms for me and has taken it to get it all checked. Finally it was time for me to head up to the gym building where I would be having the treatment that I mentioned yesterday, remember , would I like it or not? Well first you have to know what it is…a hot stone massage, check that out. I made my way to the treatment room and was introduced to the guy who would be doing it. A really nice guy who immediately asked about my injury and what I could and could not do. Now then, to have the massage it is best to be laying on your tummy on the massage table, unfortunately the table is obviously only body width and as it takes fat boy here a double bed to roll on to his tummy this was not going to happen. Instead we decided I would sit in my chair. Now you may be thinking how do I lay down on my tummy in my chair? No? Just me then that assumed you would think that, well I didn’t have to obviously. The guy still managed to square my shoulders and arms away and when massaging he uses the oils and hot smooth stones. Never had it before, obviously Paula used to massage my legs for me at my home to relax the muscle spasms but I had never had a hot stone massage. I am sure it works a lot better if you are laying on the table, and I have heard nothing but great things but I am not sure if I could feel it properly. Although above my level of injury I could feel pressure on my back but still not how I remember my back feeling. Again something that I can’t really put in to words but I tried it, and as I said, I know that even the other residents complement him as will I for his enthusiasm and passion but I would not look to return purely because it is not possible to relax whilst in the chair concentrating on keeping upright, it is not fair to take his time knowing that it would be better spent on someone who is going to get the maximum out of it. I am really glad I tried it and I thank him for his can do attitude.
I just managed to get to the dining hall for an evening meal and then it was a quick dash to the presentation room where we would view a presentation by Ken Hames. I’m not going to beat around the bush, this guy is, well many things. Determined, strong willed, strong minded, bloody minded and finally just so I don’t go on in a big list….nuts! In a nutshell he decided it would be a good idea to set a challenge to take some people with various disabilities such as being wheelchair bound, blind, amputees and deaf to name a few, through the jungles of Nicaragua, white water rafting (my memory has failed me on that location for which I apologise Ken), across the Andes and showed us the difficulties they had on the way. Some really amazing people that showed they would not take the opportunity for granted. He told of how he thought he could help them but clearly could not and learnt how disabled people overcome their disabilities which he openly admitted was incredible and taught him a lot. A really good presentation which led on to something else he is involved with, something I want to share with you briefly now. It is called the Community Self Build Agency, you may not have heard of it but it is something quite incredible. Allow me to tell you more….
They take ex service personnel; Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and active Merchant Navy Service, who require accommodation and employment, to build blocks of flats. They are taught various skills and essentially build their own accommodation. Flats are built, they move in. Clever eh! I am going to now tell you about it and copy parts of the information sheet they gave me tonight so that I can promote their call for help.
BRISTOL SELF BUILD PROJECT; EX SERVICE PERSONNEL.
The project is in partnership with Knightstone Housing Association, Bristol Council and other local organisations. The site is in Bedminster area of Bristol. It is on a main bus route giving easy travel from the local shops and Bristol city centre. Industrial factories nearby may offer employment opportunities however there are other large construction sites in Bristol. The other housing in the area suggests a thriving community.
The site offers the opportunity to build a block of flats for up to 12 individuals, with an ex service background who are in need of housing. Planning permission is waiting to agree the number of 1 & 2 bedroom flats and 2 flats that will allow people with disabilities to participate in the build. (Ken has specifically told me that they are looking for two disabled personnel to join as they will know how adaptations need to be set out!) Knightstone will own the project and be the landlords to the self builders on completion, they will also interview and select a preferred building contractor which has not been selected as yet.
They are looking for self builders that have served in any of the Armed Forces in response to media suggesting not enough is being done when individuals come to the end of their service or leave for other reasons. In Bristol there is feeling that this could be the 2nd of many more to come. Donations received have now made it possible to seek out potential self builders and encourage them to join the project.
“As part of the project is about equipping self builders with the skills needed to seek employment, and gain some of the experience needed to work on this site, we are currently talking to Bristol college about training courses that will initially gain the self builders a CSCS card that will allow you to work on this site, but also be useful if you wish to continue work within the construction industry. Other courses available will be in carpentry/bricklaying/plumbing/plastering etc. etc. The choice would be yours based on assessment at interview stage.”
If you know anyone who may fit this criteria or are indeed yourself someone they are looking for then please contact Help for Heroes who will assist.
So a full day today with some very productive meetings. WAY past my bedtime now and a day out visiting a museum tomorrow so I’m off to the land of sleepy bo bo!