The sun is shining; we’re picking bucketfuls of blooms every day and Becks is back where she belongs, working in the garden with the help of a motorised wheelchair, adapted garden tools, bags of determination on her part and the support of Bev Pace and her charity Back on Track SLS (Stroke Rehabilitation Service) which provides hands-on support, advice, advocacy and practical help for stroke survivors of working age.
Bev is a force of nature – positive, practical and resourceful so it’s no surprise that she has single-handedly set up a charity which does so much good work. An Occupational Therapist who has worked for the Stroke Association, four years ago she saw the need for practical hands-on help for working age stroke survivors and set about doing something to plug the gap. Whilst there was plenty of written advice for stroke victims and their carers there was little in the way of day-to-day help working alongside people in their rehabilitation as they adapt to a new way of life. Watching Bev working alongside Becks in the garden, it is easy to see why this is so important. Her can-do attitude and practical advice is empowering. Currently she works with up to 35 clients and their carers throughout Wiltshire at any one time. Referrals come from stroke units in hospitals as well as family members of stroke survivors.
In addition to working alongside stroke survivors, the charity advocates on behalf of its clients with employers and the Benefits department, facilitates a weekly social in Melksham where clients and carers can support each other and share ideas and runs short courses on computing, photography and even one-handed cookery. Meeting every client at their point of need is the key to getting them back on track, whether it’s accompanying a former rugby player to the gym, teaching a mother who has lost the use of one hand to cook again or getting a gardener back to work in the environment they love most.
The charity operates mostly on the generosity of individuals and small businesses who organise sponsored events or make small donations in addition to any successful grant applications. Bev’s daughter recently completed a sponsored hike to Machu Pichu and accountants from Mander Duffill have been skydiving to raise funds. The firm also provide free accountancy services to the charity enabling them to keep their costs down. Bev is conscious that using the skills of the clients themselves is beneficial for everyone and so they sit on the committee, making decisions about the direction the charity takes and compile the newsletter and publicity materials amongst other things.
Bev’s dream is to be able to develop the charity to allow for the employment of a full-time counsellor and a speech therapist in addition to the occupational therapy specialism that she herself provides. She is also actively developing relationships with local businesses which will allow for more volunteering opportunities in the world of work for stroke survivors, enabling them to learn new skills and equip themselves to be able to return to paid work in the future. We think we might be seeing more of Bev and some of her clients in the garden in the future. The garden is a great place to learn new skills, make new friends and start to feel positive again but for now we couldn’t be happier to see Becks getting back on track.
Details of the charity can be found here. If you feel you can support them with a donation, a sponsored event or volunteering opportunity, do get in touch.