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‘Step into Christmas’: how an inspiring Bristol charity is literally helping families get back on their feet this festive season

Award-winning Bristol-based charity, Legs4Africa, is giving the gift of hope to families in Sub-Saharan Africa this festive season as they launch their ‘Step into Christmas’ campaign.

The charity, which collects unwanted prosthetic limbs to save them from going to landfill and matches them with amputees in Ghana, has helped thousands of individuals walk again while providing ongoing rehabilitation and mental health and wellbeing support.

From 29th November to 6th December, this inspiring charity will double all donations they receive in order to increase their devoted mental health teams and provide more rehabilitation opportunities for amputees in Ghana.

Tom Williams, founder of Legs4Africa, said: “The ‘Step into Christmas’ campaign gives hope to many families who are struggling to come to terms with life changing amputations. Receiving a prosthetic leg is only the first step in helping individuals get back on their feet. Many amputees will have already experienced acute trauma in their lives resulting in ongoing rehabilitation and mental health challenges as they come to terms with the new phase of their journey which can be a difficult time to navigate. Our peer counsellor training and rehabilitation support in Ghana has proved to be extremely successful and we want to extend the program further so that we can help more people get back on their feet and on with their lives.

“I appreciate that times are difficult for many at the moment but even a small amount can make a huge difference in changing a person’s life.”

Earlier this year Legs4Africa founder Tom Williams received the British Citizen Award in recognition of the support the charity was providing in making a difference to amputees across the globe.

Around 1.7 million people in Africa are awaiting prosthetic limbs, which are almost impossible to locate outside of the Legs4Africa centres, with around 66% of amputees suffering from mental health issues due to limb loss in Western Africa.

Last year, Legs4Africa trained four new peer counsellors who are helping to change the narrative surrounding an amputee in their communities, while preparing individuals emotionally and physically to steer through their new phase. Each peer counsellor draws on their own disability-related experiences to support amputees recover from stigma and assist them in developing hope and improve their lives.

With a dedicated counselling team in South Ghana, it is hoped funds from ‘Step into Christmas’ will provide the opportunity for a similar team in the North.

Brandy Mawusi Susukpor, one of Legs4Africa’s current peer counsellors in Ghana, said it was important that the team was able to grow to increase rehabilitation support in the region.

She said: “Rehabilitation is a big part of supporting an amputee to come to terms with this new phase in their life and navigate the challenges they face. Without campaigns like ‘Step into Christmas’ our valuable work wouldn’t be able to continue.

“I look forward to the day that centres like those established by Legs4Africa are the norm across our country.”

Started in 2013, the charity has shipped over 14,000 prosthetic legs to African clinics that would have otherwise ended up in landfill. They currently partner with local mobility centres across the UK and recycle high-quality prosthetic legs with minimal environmental impact. By 2025 the charity hopes to increase the number of limb fitting centres it works with across Europe, Canada and the USA, to recycle unused and returned prosthetics.

Ambassadors for the charity include Paralympian Julie Rogers and TV presenter Alex Brooker.

For more information and support the campaign, visit: https://www.legs4africa.org/step-into-christmas/

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Legs4Africa is a registered charity (charity number 1158697) based in Bristol in the UK. The charity was founded in 2013 by Tom Williams after his trip to The Gambia. Tom was introduced to a gentleman who needed a prosthetic leg urgently, and his search began. Once back in the UK, Tom was able to successfully source a leg for Paul. In the process, he discovered that access to affordable prosthetic legs was a problem faced by over a million people with limb differences on the African continent. Since then, Legs4Africa has sent enough prosthetic leg parts to build or repair over 14,000 limbs-working with hospitals in the UK, the USA, Canada, France and Australia, with further opportunities arising across Europe. The charity collects used prosthetic legs, which under current European Union law, cannot be re-used in the United Kingdom. The prosthetic legs are then shipped to African countries such as The Gambia, Ghana and Uganda, where they can be modified for, and used by people with limb differences. Alongside this recycling programme, Legs4Africa works closely with in-country partners to improve services, create opportunities and ensure amputees have everything they need in order to live independent lives.

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