Amputation Foundation (AF) is a unique charity that not only assists amputees but also medical professionals in their work to give new amputees the best start following an amputation.

AF can assist amputees with many of their support needs and providing information that will be relevant to starting a new life as an amputee which can include benefits and legal information, prosthetic centre advice information, education and retraining. Amputation Foundation will also continue to support amputees with their needs moving forward through rehabilitation and on to retraining for future employment and even sports and hobbies which may require adaptations or specialist inclusive activities.

Following the news and advice from government, the AF management and board of trustees decided it would be in the best interest of staff to start working from home. We also decided to put a stop to our regular monthly gatherings of members in Stoke, Nuneaton and St Helens, and postpone the opening of our fourth location Oldham. We even had to postpone a media course that was about to start in the coming weeks. This was the start of the unknown for us, how will this growing pandemic affect our members, how will this affect the running of the charity, how will we get to visit amputees in hospital or home immediately following their surgeries?

Staff communication was excellent with each other and plans to create an online social group on Facebook for our members was put in place. We invested in some software to provide pub style quizzes which were interactive through zoom creating a social environment that brought people together from the comfort of their own homes. This led to virtual coffee mornings, virtual bingo, virtual music bingo and other daily activities through Facebook! A huge highlight for our members has been amputees sharing their stories, some have written it out and posted on the social group and some have told their story through zoom. These stories have given people inspiration and motivation to make more out of their own lives and have a wider understanding of so many different reasons for amputation and what others have had to deal with. We have also been creating and distributing activity packs to our members, full of puzzles, adult colouring, crafts etc to keep people busy in lockdown.

We have a Hospital Liaison Officer (HLO) that continuously communicates with hospital staff throughout the UK that deal with amputees. This keeps us at the forefront of the minds of these staff and this keeps us actively visiting new amputees in hospitals. Due to the pandemic this has restricted the work for the HLO, support worker and volunteers. Due to the passion of our staff doing what they do because of the love for the job and the outcomes it gets, we have completely adapted into different roles. The HLO is still reaching out to hospital staff but through LinkedIn, rather than calls and emails. Also the HLO is using his marketing and IT skills to improve our office systems and our marketing approach which is improving our efficiency and also the number of amputees we are able to interact with.

Our Amputee Liaison Officer (ALO) along with support worker and volunteers are all providing services for amputees through social media, with interactive games, quizzes, bingo etc, which is now interacting with over 200 amputees per week, which is up by 400% to pre pandemic. Plus not only have numbers increased we are also having amputees interacting with each other from all over the UK, rather than just their local hubs. Volunteers have also taken their initiative to do various activities with members such as virtual yoga & exercise classes for amputees.

Covid 19 negatives for AF = No hospital or home visits to new amputees and no regular meetings.

Covid 19 positives for AF = More members interacting, more social activities provided more frequently and a greater sense of community between our members.

AF have made progress through this pandemic and will continue to provide the same services after lockdown, as well as provide our pre lockdown workload and activities once Covid 19 departs.

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