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Remap celebrates 60 years of helping disabled people

REMAP are celebrating 60 years of making things possible for disabled people, through their incredible network of creative volunteers

It was back in 1964, when engineer Pat Johnson decided to help his sister, who had contracted polio as a child, by making some improvements to her home. Pat built a wooden ramp to his sister’s front door using some scrap wood and installed an electric hoist, giving her a new level of independence. Pat could see that his relatively simple solutions had made a huge difference to his sister’s life, so resolved to try and bring similar changes to other people in similar circumstances. Thus, the idea for the charity which later became REMAP was born!

60 years later and as REMAP celebrates its diamond anniversary it is still going strong, providing around 3,000 bespoke pieces of equipment every year, enabling disabled people to access opportunities and improve their quality of life. All equipment is provided free of charge, where no suitable item is commercially available. These range from the big to the small, the complex to the relatively simple. They can be for the type of day-to-day tasks that can easily be taken for granted, like eating, moving around and dressing. Or they can allow the individual to pursue a hobby or interest, such as taking part in sport, playing a musical instrument or being creative through art.

As well as the obvious health benefits of being more active, this can lead to social or even professional opportunities. One person helped by REMAP many times over the years is world-renowned artist Alison Lapper MBE, a British artist who was born without arms and with shortened legs. In a recent interview, Alison said: “I would be lost without REMAP… they are completely invaluable.”

Another individual helped recently is Natalie, who contacted REMAP as she was expecting her first child, but as a wheelchair user was understandably worried about how she might cope with a newborn baby.  REMAP was able to help with a number of adaptions and bespoke items, starting with a baby seat attachment for her wheelchair (pictured). REMAP’s volunteers then moved on to adapting a cot so it could be opened at the side, and adjusting a safety gate so Natalie could open and close it independently. These have made an enormous difference to her life, meaning she can take her daughter out alone, and care for her just like any other parent. But it won’t just end there. As Natalie’s daughter grows, REMAP will be back to make any adjustments needed or to create new pieces of equipment that meet their changing needs. In Natalie’s own words: “REMAP is a truly fantastic service. I rave about its service to everyone!”

Remap provided Natalie with a bespoke product

Making Things Possible All of these amazing projects are only made possible thanks to the dedication and skill of REMAP’s army of over 800 volunteers. The majority are, like their founder Pat Johnson, engineers, although they welcome volunteers with a range of different skills, whether it’s metalwork, carpentry or construction. Many engineers now employ techniques and technology which were unheard of 60 years ago such as 3D Printing and miniature electronics.

REMAP also welcomes volunteers with specialist skills, including occupational therapists who provide advice on suitable outcomes and often work in collaboration with the client’s own occupational therapist to make sure that the individual’s needs are met in a way that is safe and sustainable. A significant number of client referrals to REMAP come from occupational therapists, along with self-referrals and those made on a client’s behalf by friends and family.

While a lot has changed over the last 60 years, REMAP’s creativity and inventiveness remains at the heart of what it does and will continue to do so as long as its services are needed.


FIND OUT MORE If someone you know might benefit from REMAP’s services, please visit

To find out different ways we can support your work as an occupational therapist visit:


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