accessibility & help

British Red Cross helps Staffordshire woman regain independence after operation

5 March 2013

For immediate release Tuesday, March 5, 2013
For further information  Rebecca McIlhone
Contact number  0117 3012624 or 07525 128297

A shop manager from Stoke-on-Trent has thanked the British Red Cross for providing her with vital mobility equipment which helped her regain her independence after an operation.

Shop manager Diana Spooner, 60, from Ashbank, in Stoke-on-Trent, borrowed a Red Cross wheelchair after an ankle fusion operation, which meant she would be in plaster for up to ten weeks. Although she had been issued with a pair of crutches on her discharge from hospital she decided she would feel more confident using a wheelchair and looked online for a place to hire one.

“I suffer with arthritis in various parts of my body,” says Diana, “I was issued with elbow crutches but found them painful to use so I went on the internet looking for wheelchairs and found the Red Cross.”

The Red Cross in Staffordshire provides short-term loans of medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, for people with a disability or illness, enabling them to return home earlier from hospital or remain at home during an illness.

Soon after Diana’s first contact with the Red Cross, her husband was able to collect a wheelchair from the charity’s Stafford depot and she was soon feeling much more independent and positive. Used to living a busy and independent life as the manager of a shop with 12 employees, Diana was already finding her changed circumstances hard to cope with. Using her Red Cross wheelchair to get on with daily tasks was really important to her.

She says: “My husband was looking after me but getting me up off chairs was difficult. I’m a very determined person you see and the wheelchair has been a godsend. I can do things for myself; cook, answer the phone. Before that I couldn’t even get out of a chair.

“It’s stopped me getting depressed and made it easier for my family to take me out shopping. I was in the supermarket the other day and saw my daughter. I shouted out to her and she dropped her shopping in shock and said, “My mum’s out!”. They thought I was going to be house-bound.”

The Red Cross medical equipment service has five depots throughout Staffordshire, run by a team of 22 skilled and dedicated volunteers. Last year the service helped 577 people across the county, of which 479 borrowed wheelchairs.

Service manager Michelle Smith says: “We are delighted we were able to be there for Mrs Spooner and hundreds of others like her but we can always help more people.

“While people are often referred to us by occupational therapists, physiotherapists and other medical staff, everyone is eligible to use the service and people can also contact us directly.

“Many of our beneficiaries have complex health problems and some are terminally ill. People have often been coping with difficult situations for a long time and borrowing equipment sparks off the telling of a story. Sometimes it can be quite an emotional process and our volunteers are happy to sit down with people to listen. They are also trained to ensure people go away with exactly the right piece of equipment for their or their relative’s needs.

“Borrowing our equipment is a simple process and the service is free, although we do require a returnable deposit. We are happy if people are able to make a donation but if they’re not, that’s fine too.”

In Staffordshire the medical equipment depots are in the following locations:

Barton Centre
29 Station Road
DE13 8DR

01283 712451

C/o Hill Street Health & Wellbeing Centre
Hill Street
DE15 9LD

07964 290052

Landywood District Voluntary Help Centre
154 Walsall Road
Great Wyrley

01922 418381

Leek Centre
Southbank Street
ST13 5LS

01538 399882

13 & 14 Parker Court
Staffordshire Technology Park
Beaconside, Stafford
ST18 0WP

01785 279847

If you would like to contact your local service or find out about becoming a volunteer, please call Michelle Smith on 01785 279840.

For more information about the Red Cross visit


Notes to editors

A photograph of Diana Spooner with Michelle Smith, manager of the medical equipment service in Staffordshire is available on request. Please credit Mike Poloway/UNP

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

Follow us on Twitter: @BRC_West

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