Disability and coronavirus: how Revitalise “saved me”

Revitalise continue to provide support and respite for thousands of people across the UK living with a disability. We hear from Leon Badger about his experience with Revitalise.

Leon Badger, who is from Southampton, has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and type 1 diabetes, meaning he is extremely vulnerable to coronavirus.

When he was at his lowest, worrying about catching the virus from carers and family, Revitalise stepped in and offered him respite at their Sandpipers holiday centre in Southport.

“My concerns with coronavirus were carers coming in to support me, plus my Mum being a frontline worker. Every day I would wonder, is today me? Is it tomorrow? Is it next week?”

Leon recalls that his stress levels were extremely high, and it was a horrible situation for both him and his family.

Thanks to generous funding from The Garfield Weston Foundation, Revitalise have been able to adapt their usual holiday service and offer respite breaks at their Sandpipers Centre throughout the pandemic – even transporting guests there on a fleet of secure minibuses.

Leon remembers the day he was picked up, he says: “My niece asked if I was sure I wanted to go, to travel 400 odd miles. But I got on the bus and really enjoyed the journey up; communicating, getting to know someone and feeling like I’m going to be me again.”

While staying at Sandpipers Leon says he has been keeping in touch with family and friends through texts and calls, but says he also wants to give them time to not worry about him. Leon explains: “When I’m here, they know I’m safe.”

During his stay Leon told Revitalise: “I felt like people cared, the staff were really caring and considerate. They tried to understand how I feel and tried to give me time to speak to them. Trying to reassure me it’s going to be okay.”

The key message Leon shared was that his time at Sandpipers has given him back a sense of control, allowed him not to worry and to feel like himself again.  

He says: “Revitalise saved me. I’m in better control of myself than I was at home, as at home I’d be isolated and alone.”

Revitalise are committed to offering a lifeline for disabled people during the coronavirus pandemic and into the future, they would love to hear your story to find out how they can best help more people like Leon. Additionally, if you would like to book an urgent respite stay, or a holiday for later in the year, please contact bookings@revitalise.org.uk.