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Irwin Mitchell And Students Help Make A House A Home For New Tenant

“Specially Adapted Homes Key to Rehabilitation,” Say Lawyers


By Suzanne Rutter

Staff from leading Newcastle law firm Irwin Mitchell joined forces with law students from Northumbria University to help spinal injury support organisation Aspire revamp a home which has been specially adapted to suit the needs of people who have sustained a spinal injury.

Karen Robinson and Ellie Szunko from Irwin Mitchell, students Holly Bell and Natalie Richards along with Christine Robinson from Aspire Housing put their interior design and DIY skills to the test when they helped build new furniture, make beds, hang curtains and unpack boxes at a new property in Newburn, Newcastle, which is owned by Aspire Housing. 

The national organisation offers practical support to the 40,000 people living with a spinal cord injury in the UK by providing specially adapted houses where they can regain their independence while living with their families or carers once they have left hospital. The homes are provided on a temporary basis, usually for about six months, while the tenant’s own home is being adapted or a new property is found which is more suitable for their needs.

Aspire homes are all fully-accessible for wheelchair users, have wet rooms, kitchens with lowered work surfaces and come kitted out with soft furnishings to help tenants feel welcome.

John Davis, a partner at the firm, said: “At Irwin Mitchell we see the devastating consequences spinal injuries can have on people’s lives and the extensive care and rehabilitation which is often needed to help people get their lives back on track.

“That’s why we support organisations such as Aspire who do some fantastic work to help people who have sustained a spinal injury regain their independence and to come to terms with their injury.

“We really appreciate the opportunity to get involved in their latest housing project and to help make the home as comfortable as possible for the new tenant.”

According to Aspire, 1,200 people suffer a spinal cord injury every year and the vast majority become wheelchair users for the rest of their lives. The organisation helps people who are going through the transition phase from hospital or a rehabilitation centre and who may not be able to return to their own homes.

Hannah Wyatt, Development Manager at Aspire, said: “Most people’s homes simply aren’t suitable for a wheelchair user, so it’s no surprise that for those who are newly injured, where they are going to live when they get out of hospital is a major worry.

“All too often, they’ll find themselves discharged to somewhere totally unsuitable such as an un-adapted house or a care home. Such situations rob people of their independence at a time when they should be ready to rebuild their lives.

“Aspire Housing is so important because it offers an alternative. Whether we adapt an existing property or get involved with the design of the house right from the start, all our houses are fully accessible.

“We are incredibly grateful to our hard working volunteers from Irwin Mitchell and Northumbria University who did a fantastic job transforming our property in Newburn. It really will be a welcoming new home for one of our tenants and will play a crucial part in their recovery.”

An ‘open house’ event will be held at the new Aspire property in the next few months once a new tenant has been selected and has moved in to show how the organisation’s work helps people with spinal injuries become more independent.

For more information about Irwin Mitchell work in the community.