Peer & Whānau Support




There’s nothing quite like talking with someone who understands from experience what you’re going through.

Someone you can confide in and lean on. Someone with access to a large network of experienced, accomplished, and supportive people to help you navigate the bumpy spinal impairment road. This is what our Peer & Whānau Support (Connecting People) program provides. It’s here for you if you have a spinal cord impairment, or are whanau/family, or the main support person or caregiver.


Here’s how it works

If you’re at the Burwood Spinal Unit for the first time one of our peer and family support coordinators will introduce themselves. This will either be Josh, Brett or Jazz who all live with a spinal cord impairment, or Andrew Hall our National Programme Manager who has lived with an SCI for over 30 years. This team is beyond incredible and you will see them on the ward most days.

(Andrew Hall, Jazz Calder, Brett Ladbrook, Josh Caldwell)


During your time at Burwood your peer and family support coordinator will see how you are on a regular basis. They may invite you to events, outings, gatherings, meals, and for one to one coffee catch ups. They’ll also introduce you to our private Connecting People Facebook Group where over 800 members share SCI related information, and are available to answer any questions you may have.

As they get to know you they’ll introduce you to people and resources that will help you find your bright new future.


Before you know it you’ll be back home. Then what?

We’re here for you whenever you need us. We’ll reach out from time to time to see how things are going. We’ll let you know about upcoming events, and let you know when we hit the road to visit your region. We have a large and growing network of people around New Zealand who have lived with and around spinal cord impairment, so there is also someone ready and willing to support and share no matter where you live. We can chat via Skype, phone, email or online.



What if I didn’t go through the Burwood Spinal Unit? 

That’s okay. We’re here to support all New Zealanders.

If you are transitioning through the Auckland Spinal Rehabilitation Unit (ASRU) or live in the Auckland region you will find our colleagues from Spinal Support NZ very helpful.

Can I help too?

Yes please. Here’s how:

  • Offer to support or answer the occasional question from someone new to life in or around SCI.
  • Connect with someone, either in person, on the phone, or by email, who needs support.
  • Ask when you have questions, and share when you have the knowledge or experience
  • Participate in get-togethers organised within your region, so we can have a strong information and support network in your area
  • Contribute to the Connecting People Facebook Group
  • Donate to support the Connecting People program.
  • Register to become a volunteer to help run activities and events in your community, and offer peer support too.

If you are interested in any of the above please contact Andrew Hall on 03 387 1305 or click here to email Andrew Hall

We look forward to hearing from you.


These are our core objectives

  • Providing critical emotional support
  • Providing local and national information and resources to people living with SCI, and their families and caregivers throughout NZ irrelevant of their location
  • Providing a nationally consistent service
  • Providing all clients with  relevant  and appropriate positive peer support
  • Presenting opportunities for natural connections to be made through  social interactions to promote well-being and to encourage community engagement
  • Creating and maintain a database of positive and productive people who are open to share their experience for the benefit of others
  • Providing a community of information that is both relevant and current that encourages good decisions and promotes self-responsibility
  • Encouraging holistic awareness for all those who are touched by the SCI experience
  • Offering hope at a time when life can be particularly challenging by connecting with others who have been there and are living happy, positive and productive lives

Some of the key benefits include

  • Sharing of relevant practical experience  promoting good health and well-being
  • Friendships both local and national via social outings and online networks
  • Growth in  confidence and understanding
  • Improving the experience of recovery and acceptance
  • A sense of community and fellowship
  • Providing empathy, acceptance and hope
  • Empowering clients and sharing knowledge and experience to encourage  informed choice
  • Believing that all life has value and is full of potential no matter what your level of disability. With the right attitude, positive & constructive support, almost anything is possible
  • Sharing with others who understand the journey through lived experience really helps to make life less challenging
  • Reducing the length of time it takes to return to a state of relative well-being
  • Promoting development of personal strengths



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