Sometimes a physical injury can have a major knock-on effect on your mental wellbeing, as the way you’re used to living changes in a matter of moments.
But thanks to your ongoing donations, we’re able to ensure we offer our beneficiaries all-round support – so they’re not just improving their physical health, but their mental health too.
One way we can help people following a life-changing injury is with a stay at one of our three residential centres, and participation in one of our rehabilitation programmes.
While, for some, they may primarily be there for physiotherapy – with gym sessions, one-to-one time with Physiotherapists and Exercise Therapists and time in the pool and hydropool – we also offer them a series of workshops and programmes to improve their overall mental wellbeing.
And it’s this support that many never know they need until they’re there… people just like Karen Bell, a Sub Officer with London Fire Brigade.
Karen, 54, suffered a major injury to her hand in 2018 while mowing her lawn.
“I had an accident with a lawn mower,” she explains. “I stupidly put my hand in the grass box, trying to clear clogged grass. I was doing too many things at once and I clearly still had my hand on the trigger, which I can’t remember. So of course, once the blockage was cleared, the blades started again.
“I lost a large part of my right index finger and severed the middle one.
“Everything’s different now, I can’t write the same or do a number of other tasks in the same way.
“I was off work for a while from then. I’m a doer so suddenly having that time off was hard. It had impacted a lot of what I could do as a firefighter, so I had to concentrate on building that back up.”
For Karen, however, a major issue she felt she needed to address during her recovery was exactly how the accident had happened.
“I was chatting to someone about it,” she says. “I’d had all these jobs to do that day, this massive long list I was trying to get through in a short amount of time.
“They said, ‘but why? You need to relax, you’re trying to do too many things and your brain is working overtime’. They suggested I reach out to The Fire Fighters Charity, to not only receive some physio, but also talk about why it had happened.
“I just thought it was worth an ask – and I’m so glad I did. I’d never thought of turning to you before, I’d always assumed it was for bigger things, but actually – this was a big injury impacting my life hugely, just a small body part!”
After speaking to our Assessment Practitioners, Karen was offered a rehabilitation stay at Marine Court, our centre in Littlehampton.
“It was fantastic, but it’s full on! I was exhausted every day, but it’s exactly what you need,” says Karen.
“I had a tailored programme of exercises for my hand, because I was having to gain strength and movement back in both fingers – particularly the middle one that they’d stitched back on – then you’d have walks every day and also workshops and time to address your mental health too.
“I was so nice being with people from different Brigades, talking about our individual experiences. I’m still friends with many of them now.”
Karen had surgery on her hand shortly after her first stay and was then invited to return for a second stint, to continue working on her movement.
“It all massively helped me get back to work again,” she says.
“Luckily I was able to go back on light duties and do some office work that I could manage with one hand for a while, but I missed my usual work.
“I’ve now got new special gloves made for me, which is brilliant, but I had to make sure those were ready before I could go operational again.”
Karen is now speaking to us about supporting her daughter’s rehabilitation, following an illness. They will be visiting Harcombe House later this month, where her daughter will be receiving some bespoke support.
“I have no doubt in my mind that every session with a physiotherapist will enhance her recovery,” adds Karen. “Every time I speak to people, my first point of call is – whatever they say – ‘have you been to The Fire Fighters Charity?’ I’m like a broken record!”
We couldn’t help people like Karen without your support. Donate now to ensure we can be there for you and your colleagues when you’re most in need: