A charity that helps people who have suffered life-changing spinal cord injuries is celebrating the opening of a new centre.
Transhouse provides short-term accommodation and support for patients who are discharged from hospital, but need a helping hand to prepare them for living independently.
The charity already has two specially-adapted bungalows and has now opened a third, all based in or around the Shropshire town of Oswestry.
Chairman Darren Hughes, a serious injury lawyer at Slater and Gordon, knows first-hand the difficulties of adapting to life with a disability.
The former military policeman was just 25 years old when he sustained a spinal cord injury in an accident while on holiday which left him paralysed from the chest down.
Darren, now 49, spent six months in the spinal unit at Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital before becoming manager of Transhouse – short for transitional housing.
Inspired by helping others get their lives back on track, he went on to do a law degree and now works at the Wrexham and Chester branches of the law firm which donated £2,000 to kit out the new two-bed property.
Darren, who lives with wife Vicky in Marford, said: “Adapting to life with a serious spinal injury can be very daunting, particularly when you no longer need to be in hospital.
“Some people aren’t quite ready to go home and really benefit from being around others who know what they’re going through.
“It is about practical support, but also peer support which is very important. People form close friendships while they’re there which continue long after they leave.
“Having been involved from the beginning, I know what a worthwhile cause it is and am delighted to be able to offer it both mine and my firm’s support.”
Transhouse can now accommodate a total of 10 people in its properties which are adapted to meet the needs of residents with their own bedrooms and bathrooms, plus facilities for carers and a shared kitchen and lounge.
Tenancies are for six months to start with, but people can extend their stay if they don’t feel ready to move on.
The charity currently survives on housing benefits paid to tenants, but is becoming increasingly reliant on donations.
Manager Fae Dromgool added: “The fact that we have people on a waiting list shows there is a real need for what we do – that stepping stone between hospital and independent living.
“We are incredibly grateful to all those who help to make it happen and to Darren who is a real inspiration to us all.”
For more information about the charity and its work go to transhouse.info/wp/