“But you need people around you to challenge you, set your own limits, and work out how you’re going to get there.”– James Cracknell, OBE
Last weekend I was amazed by the incredible story of James Cracknell representing Cambridge University in the Boat Race. In 2010, the former Olympic Gold Medal winner suffered a serious brain injury when he was knocked off his bike during an endurance event in the USA. It is a remarkable achievement for anyone to take part in the Boat Race, but James’ achievements really stand out when you consider how his road to recovery from a serious accident has seen him not only attain a place studying at Cambridge University but then also go on to earn a place on this team, as the oldest person to ever take part in – and win – the race.
As I read the news reports in awe of these achievements, his quote above resonated strongly with the work that we do with clients who have suffered brain injuries, and just how important it is to have the right people around you. The PSG Trust Corporation acts as professional deputy for clients who have suffered similar brain injuries to James but as a result of those injuries are unable to make certain decisions about their finances.
It is absolutely fundamental to the role of a professional deputy that we ensure that the individual concerned is involved in decision making and that we empower them to make decisions where possible. The work should never involve assumptions, or an approach that is overly restrictive on the client’s rights and freedoms. There is an element of safeguarding within deputyship work, but this should always be measured and reasoned. I have had many cases where clients have defied professional opinions to achieve goals that were personal to them but considered improbable. A good professional deputy should support the client to achieve their goals, rather than becoming a further obstacle. There is no automatic reason why someone who lacks capacity to manage their financial affairs could not attend Cambridge University, or even take part in the Boat Race just as James did. Perhaps your goal is a Park Run or maybe an adventurous holiday. Where possible, a good deputy should support their client as they pursue their beliefs and goals.
Well done to James Cracknell and to all those who defy other people’s perceptions of what they can or should be able to achieve!