Trustee Rita Patel’s story
03 Apr 2020
by Ethos Group

“A fresh outlook on life, confidence and independence” is what Rita Patel says Ethos helped her to achieve after suffering a spinal cord injury. Now the 38-year-old is helping others who are having to come to terms with life-changing injuries and illnesses, as a trustee of the charity.

Overcoming a life-changing injury

Rita said: “I have an acquired spinal cord injury and am complete at C5/C6, meaning that I am paralysed from the neck down, but with some arm function. Coming to terms with being a full-time wheelchair user was a massive challenge for me but having to change my mental outlook on life was even harder.

“I was discharged from hospital to Ethos in 2008, where I stayed for more than two years. The biggest thing Ethos did for me was to support me in regaining my confidence and independence. 

“Ethos helped me relocate back to my home city of Birmingham to be closer to my family. They also aided in securing a 24-hour care package for me to ensure I had care support to live alone.

“With time and support from the charity I readjusted to a new way of living and took on a fresh outlook to life.”

Giving back as a trustee

“After leaving Ethos I was invited to sit on the board as a trustee and I have been able to pass on my first-hand experience which allows me to give invaluable feedback to the charity. 

“In the next few years I hope to continue helping Ethos by raising their profile and promoting the life-changing work they do.

“Like many other clients I do not know where I would be without Ethos. When discharged from hospital I did not have the skills or knowledge to live independently in the community. I am extremely grateful for everything the charity has done for me.”

Advice to others

“To anyone confronted with a situation like mine, I would say that while you may be a different person after a life-changing physical disability and your life won’t be what you had expected, you will find a way forward.

“It’s also important to remember that if you are recovering from such a disability and are considering applying for a place with Ethos, the charity is the perfect place to reset, take stock of your life and find a new path.

"Ethos gave me space to regain my confidence, adjust to a new way of life and integrate back into the community. I now live independently, and am proud to sit on the Ethos board as a trustee." 

Shropshire-based Ethos is looking for more enthusiastic, passionate people with a range of interests, from housing and health and social care to IT, finance and HR to join Rita on its board. For more information, please click here.