A WOMAN with a spinal disorder who has to use a wheelchair was so pleased with a support service she received that she volunteered to be part of it.

Leah Booth, of Kings Bridge Close, Mill Hill, Blackburn, has the genetic disease spinal muscular atrophy and needs full-time care.

She had been cared for by her parents, but then joined direct payments, a council-funded scheme that paid for her to organise her own care.

Now she has joined a peer support scheme to help others get the support they need.

The 21-year-old, who lives with her mum and dad, Michelle and Alan, and sister Chloe, 16, said the scheme had turned her life around.

She said: “My mum did all the care but you don’t always want to go out with your parents.

“They also found it hard to fit everything around normal family activities.

“So I stayed in a lot and was a bit of a recluse. Joining direct payments really did turn my life around.

“Now I can do what normal 21-year-olds do. I can go on holidays, spend time with my friends, anything I want.”

Leah said the process was a bit daunting at first.

She said: “I was very unsure about it and was very scared about what would happen.

“I had questions like, what if the people don’t turn up, and how will it all work?”

Leah is now one of four volunteers who all receive direct payments themselves.

She said: “Now I just want to help others turn their lives around like I did. My main priority now is helping other people to get the life they want.

“I wished there had been someone else who’d been through it all when I started.”

The group is looking for new volunteers. For information, call 01254 587955 or 587951.