‘Not every amputee is a Paralympian in the making’ - new Norwich support group gets crafty to help amputees

Chris Barker and Teresa, founders of the Walkon Crafters group for amputees. Photo: Bill Smith Chris Barker and Teresa, founders of the Walkon Crafters group for amputees. Photo: Bill Smith

Mark Shields mark.shields@archant.co.uk
Monday, March 31, 2014
7:00 AM

A relaunched support group for amputees aims to offer vital practical and emotional help to people across Norwich who have lost limbs.

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Walkon Crafters' work. Photo: Bill SmithWalkon Crafters' work. Photo: Bill Smith

A relaunched support group for amputees aims to offer vital practical and emotional help to people across Norwich who have lost limbs.

Walkon Crafters is run by Chris Barker and his partner Teresa Walker, and has moved to a new venue at the Wensum Community Centre in Norwich.

The social group provides pragmatic advice to recent amputees on how to cope with the changes in their lives, as well as offering a social outlet and a way for people to spend time together through crafts.

Mr Barker, 57, lost his left leg above the knee after suffering complications following an operation in 2011, and said he felt isolated as he came to terms with his new life – something he hopes to avoid others having to go through.

“When I was in the Colman Hospital, talking to other amputees who had been through it was better than talking to my partner or someone down the pub. You can’t understand what it’s like to lose a limb until you’ve lost a limb,” he said.

The group has taken the name of a previous support group Walk On, which folded several years ago, and has a focus on crafts as a way to fill the long hours between hospital and physiotheraphy appointments.

Mr Barker, of Dereham Road, said: “Not every amputee is a Paralympian in the making, so something to occupy the mind is useful. Crafting isn’t essential, but it’s something that helped me through.”

The group, previously based at the Royal British Legion hall on Aylsham Road, also caters for families, carers and partners of amputees.

Ms Walker, 54, gave up her job to help look after her partner, and said the effects of amputation were felt acutely by all families.

“The changes to your life are phenomenal, and sometimes it feels like you’re wading through treacle to get the right information. We want to make sure other people have the support they need at the point they need it most.”

Walkon Crafters is involved with the charity initiative Legs 4 Africa and also hopes to team up with the Wensum Community Garden.

The group meets between 2pm and 4pm this Thursday, and the first Thursday of every month , at the Wensum Community Centre on Hotblack Road, and people of all ages are welcome. See www.walkoncraftersnorwich.co.uk

Have you set up a charitable initiative or support group? Email mark.shields@archant.co.uk

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