Spinal Injury Association (SIA)

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What was your response to Covid-19?

When the Coronavirus pandemic struck, SIA had a stark choice: to either batten down the hatches or respond to the urgent calls from  Spinal Cord Injury people in need of information, support and representation as Coronavirus took hold. They rapidly redeployed frontline staff and volunteers to provide a joined-up response offering information, advocacy and support via a 111-style Support Line with extended opening hours. A triage team took calls, referred enquiries to Nursing, Peer Support and Advocacy colleagues as necessary. Alongside this, the team curated written and video content on their website with a dedicated landing page and co-hosted virtual cafes via Zoom with partners.

What was different about this approach?

SIA had received the clear message from Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) people that they should link all of the individuals, services and organisations that can build their voice and influence in society. With that imperative, SIA committed to reaching out to all those who share the vision of a fulfilled life for every SCI person: other charities, the NHS and the wider health and social care system, as well as friends in the legal sector and beyond to build an SCI support network across the country. 

To achieve this re-targeted ambition, SIA had begun to build a structure focused on support networks of trusted partners region by region to meet the diverse needs of SCI people, plus increased access to advocacy and representation for the growing clinical, social and economic challenges and barriers facing our community. This new structure was ready for roll-out when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

What was the impact and benefit for people?

SIA launched and led a connected response to the initial Coronavirus crisis, working with partners to deliver an urgent programme of services for the SCI community.

Key charities and even specialist Spinal Cord Injury Centres in the sector deferred to SIA for guidance and Covid-19/SCI-specific information, putting SIA at the heart of an extensive support network for SCI people and creating a renewed vision of what a fulfilled life looks like for someone with a spinal cord injury.

This connected response was critical to providing the high-quality, sustained and extensive support SCI people were looking for, many of whom were 'shielding' and feeling very vulnerable and isolated as the real impact of the Coronavirus pandemic became clear.

Is the solution sustainable post Covid-19?

We know the pandemic has significantly changed the priorities of the SCI community, and SIA will need to ensure the way in which they, and their network of partners, serve the SCI community in the future, supports those changes.

We believe plans to bring together the organisations that feed into their medical, social, and emotional care and rehabilitation will enable those organisations to align their priorities and services with the issues that really matter to those they seek to support, and provide a platform to affect change on a national scale. 

More information on the Spinal Injury Association