Henry Pitchers, leading Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury barrister at No5 Chambers, recently took part in the Bolt Burden Kemp wheelchair awareness event. 

The event took place in Islington London, where the participating barristers were first given a lesson by instructors from the charity, Back Up, in how to use wheelchairs and an opportunity to practice basic skills including: getting up and down ramps, traversing curbs, balancing on two wheels and navigating around obstacles. 

The group were then sent out onto the streets of Islington, with a buddy, to attempt to fulfil a series of tasks. These tasks included crossing roads, riding a bus, buying certain items from shops, getting in and more importantly out of changing rooms and using a cashpoint to name just a few simple tasks that wheelchair dependant people face on a daily basis.     

It soon became evident just how difficult some of these challenges can be, with participants finding it difficult to access shops both with and without ramps, with doorways being too narrow and ramps being too steep. Some were welcomed into shops and cafes, while others found staff unhelpful and even rude. 

A few trapped fingers later, the group then heard from the former Team GB Wheelchair Rugby Captain, Steve Brown, about his life after an accident in June 2005, in which he sustained a severe spinal cord injury. His inspirational talk revealed just how quickly your life can be completely changed but with a lot of optimism, training and determination he was able to captain the GB Wheelchair rugby team at the 2012 Paralympics. The participants then divided into groups and took part in competitive wheelchair rugby.

The aim of the day was to help those who work with clients that are facing serious injury and possible life in a wheelchair to become more aware of just how difficult the adjustment can be and the challenges that will be faced on a day to day basis. The event also raised money for the the Back Up and SIA charities. 

Henry Pitchers said of the day, “I had enormous fun, but spending just a few hours in a wheelchair gave me a real insight into the practical difficulties facing wheelchair users. I really think this will assist me in my involvement in cases involving serious spinal and brain injuries.”

To access the video of the Wheelchair Awareness day please CLICK HERE.

Please register your interest in the 2017 Wheelchair Awareness day to be held in Birmingham by emailing marketing@no5.com.