Page 11 - PIC Magazine Autumn Issue 16
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  SIA: Building A Network for Everyone
  The Spinal Injuries Association’s (SIA) Chief Executive, Nik Hartley OBE,
describes the charity’s thinking behind its exciting network model that aims to connect with everyone affected by spinal cord injury.
  t a time when we are once more fighting embedded racism, I have noticed how the battle today is as much about the explicit day-to-day racism experienced by too many too often, as it is the implicit sense of not being on the inside; not
being part of a network, with influence. And so it is with disability. SIA, alongside so many other brilliant campaigning organisations, has been fighting for decades for people
to understand that disability is societal, not physical.
From the feedback and conversations we’ve been having throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we know that our network
of members want us to fight harder for
more representation, a louder voice, more influence on policy and much better, joined- up services from charities, companies and the Government. Critically, this must include SIA’s members as leaders of those services at every stage.
A true Association must be for life; and a true Association must be not just a network of members but of partners too. Otherwise we are talking to ourselves.
Emerging from the ongoing pandemic,
our renewed ambition is for every spinal cord injured (SCI) person in the UK – with
a diverse range of ambitions, needs and challenges – to reach and be reached by the best people and the best organisations. And so, in August SIA launched an expanded network of people and partners, region by region and nationally, to create the best network possible to serve, support and fight for every aspect of what each person would define as a fulfilled life.
This means building a network of trusted partners, developing a new online space for easy access to the appropriate people and partners, and re-structuring our outreach region-by-region.
This new structure was ready for roll-out as the pandemic struck. In many ways
it immediately faced – and passed – its toughest test: we embraced existing technology and built on current partnerships to build a coalition of experts who would connect SCI people and provide the advice and services they needed more than ever.
But now as we emerge it is time to expand that to everyone, wherever and whoever they are. The more SCI people we can reach, the more people we can support. But also, the more links that SCI people have to a network of experts, advocates, information, and of course appropriate services, the more empowered – enabled even – people will be to lead a fulfilled life.
Building our national support network, we are approaching organisations across many different sectors. We are using the headings of body, mind, life, and livelihoods as a guide. Because a fulfilled life is not just about bowel management, but retaining a job, having children, getting to a shop, being safe from coronavirus, etc. It is about finding organisations people recognise as the best – not just an estate agent with a wider door, but one that prioritises a portfolio of accessible housing; not just a legal firm that can win a personal injury claim but one that understands the diversity of legal needs throughout an injured person’s life.
SIA is now linking its partners with SCI people so that they can get the right support when they need it most – whether it be financial, healthcare or other. This is an exciting time for SIA and its members and the start of a new chapter in the charity’s 40-plus year history.
Trusted legal partners to date:
Bolt Burdon Kemp CFG Law
Higgs & Sons Hugh James
Irwin Mitchell NewLaw
Simpson Millar Slater + Gordon Leigh Day Trewthowans Royds Withy King
As part of SIA’s new network, in August the charity also announced its new trusted legal partners, who are some of SIA’s longest-standing supporters. They’ve shown real commitment to the charity’s
work through investing in SIA, volunteering and fundraising.
SIA’s trusted legal partners are specialists with exemplary legal expertise. Crucially, they are committed to SIA’s vision of a fulfilled life for everyone with an SCI and have demonstrated over many years their commitment and determination to support and empower SCI people to rebuild their lives.
            See how you can support the Spinal Injuries Association. Visit: Autumn 2020

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