Wheelchair day offers real insight to Higgs lawyers

20th October 2017

Wheelchair day offers real insight to Higgs lawyers

Lawyers from Higgs & Sons’ Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence teams experienced what it may be like to be a wheelchair user recently in order to better understand the challenges faced by some of their clients.

Andy Shaw, Head of Personal Injury and Clare Langford a Partner in the Clinical Negligence team joined a group of lawyers and barristers to take part in The Wheelchair Awareness Day which had been organised by No5 Barristers’ Chambers.

The day was aimed at legal professionals working with people with a spinal injury, who are learning to adjust to life in a wheelchair.

“This was a fantastic experience. It was enlightening to find out what challenges wheelchair users face on a day to day basis,” comments Clare Langford.

“In many ways it was extremely humbling,” continues Andy Shaw. “Being fully ambulant, we take so many things for granted. It is not just access to buildings, shops and restaurants, but being on a different level to the vast majority of people totally changes the dynamics of your relationship with those around you.”

Participants in the day were given some basic wheelchair skills training from the charity, Back Up Trust before being taken around Birmingham city centre. During their time in the city, the group had to cross roads, go shopping and manoeuvre around Central Library.

The afternoon saw them take part in a wheelchair rugby tournament under the guidance of Paralympian Steve Brown, Captain of the London 2012 GB Wheelchair Rugby Team.

Henry Pitchers, a Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Barrister at No5, said: “The day was a great success and the feedback we’ve had from everyone who took part has been incredibly positive.

“The aim of the day was to raise awareness and give some insight into the needs of those reliant for their mobility upon wheelchairs, and I certainly think we achieved that - all the participants that I spoke to said it was a real eye-opener.

The Awareness Day was also supported by solicitor Raquel Siganporia, a trustee of the Spinal Injuries Association, herself a wheelchair user. Raquel gave an insight into her experience in a wheelchair, whilst Claire Ashton, an occupational therapist with a specialism in the area of wheelchairs, provided information on wheelchair seating and 24-hour postural management.

“It was an experience I will never forget,” concludes Clare Langford. “Although it was only for one day, it certainly made me consider just how much of an impact a severe spinal injury may have on a person’s life and what we can do as professionals to help provide the right level of support and rehabilitation to our clients whose lives have been impacted in this way.”



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