A Liverpool man whose dad has motor neurone disease is combining his personal experience with his professional skills to help disabled people in the local area.
Jamie King, 28, has joined the new Merseyside branch of Remap, a national charity whose volunteers use their passion for engineering and electronics to create customised equipment for people with a disability.
Jamie’s dad, Bill, was a fit and active person who worked as an outdoor educator teaching youngsters skills such as orienteering. But when he was just 44, Bill was diagnosed with MND.
Jamie said, “It was absolutely devastating for him and the family. He was an incredibly active person but the disease took him right out of that. One of the first things that happened was that he lost his dexterity and, with it, his sense of independence.”
Jamie remembers his dad’s occupational therapists making small additions to cutlery and keys to make them easier to use. And it’s this aspect of Remap’s work that really resonates with him.
He said, “Those simple ideas made such a big impact on my dad’s life, and I’d love to help others in the same way. Every person has different needs so it will be interesting to meet them and come up with a solution. I’m a senior packaging design engineer and have access to 3D printing equipment and software, so I feel I’ll be able to contribute something worthwhile.”
Each year, Remap custom-makes and provides free of charge about 3,000 pieces of equipment to help disabled people achieve greater independence and quality of life. It steps in to fill the gap when there are no other products on the market that meet someone’s specific need.
Around 900 volunteers – from engineers by trade to experienced hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts – are involved in creating these unique tools and gadgets, often adapting everyday items that those without a disability take for granted.
But for Jamie, volunteering for Remap is not just about helping the person with the disability – it’s also about making life easier for carers like his mum, Sharon.
He said, “What’s often overlooked is the increasing demands on the carer when a person starts losing their independence. I’ve seen it myself first hand with my mum and she has been incredible.”
For a while after his diagnosis, Bill tried to continue being active. Jamie said: “I remember him being positive and carrying on doing what he was doing. He ran five Snowdonia marathons after his diagnosis. The final one he came last, but he still finished it.”
As Bill’s health began to deteriorate, he and Sharon moved closer to family and friends, and now live in disabled accommodation in the Edge Lane area of Liverpool. Jamie lives close by, near Port Sunlight.
He is now appealing for volunteers with an interest in engineering and electronics to join him in helping Remap bring its vital service to the area. The charity is seeking to establish a new Merseyside branch as part of a National Lottery grant of £98,000.
Jamie said, “We would welcome support from anyone aged over 18 with an interest or expertise in working with materials such as wood and metal, or who has a technical or electronics background. But we also need people with administrative, finance or book-keeping experience.”
To volunteer, please apply online at www.remap.org.uk/volunteer-for-remap/