Building an audience for Wheelchair Skills College

An interview with Pete Donnelly, Wheelchair Skills College

Blog by Skilled Volunteer Diane Carrington | Sep 2022

Pete Donnelly is the brains behind The Wheelchair Skills College which he started full time in January 2022. He was inspired to create the start up company as a result of his own personal experience of becoming a wheelchair user at the age of nineteen in 2006. With very little skills training offered in the UK to wheelchair users, their support networks or interested organisations his vision has been to change that by offering those very skills that had increased his independence and made such a difference to his life.

Through his own experiences, Pete has personally demonstrated just how important and liberating wheelchair skills are, whether it’s been adventures in travelling back home overland from Bangladesh, driving to Mongolia or enabling him to build a career in the third sector.

With a background in managing various empowerment programmes for disabled people in the third sector he had never worked directly in social media teams so when it came to his own start up Pete wanted someone with social media expertise to provide advice around extending his reach and building an audience. He reached out to Link UP London after speaking to a former colleague who had worked for Link UP as a Skilled Volunteer suggested it.

Pete was perfectly matched with Sara whose background was social media, she worked with him to look at the social media channels he was on and devised a strategy to help him build his brand. The strategy involved bringing more structure to what he was already doing, putting out a presence on several different social medias, sending out clear, consistent messages on a regular basis, creating a monthly social calendar which contained the key points & recommendations from the strategy as a recurring reminder, and repurposing his content across the various social medias to save him time. Sara also advised him how to stay on brand e.g. sticking with the same design & colour on each webpage for consistency.

Since completion of the project Pete has continued putting into practice Sara’s strategy, he feels that it helped him to become more structured and consistent in getting his message out which has enabled him to gain more trust and credibility with new clients as a new organisation. He has redesigned and improved his website e.g. his testimonials page using a slide show which makes using the site and reading content easier as well as reminding people what he does. He engages now with pop culture linking with different groups where there is a crossover of interests. He has even recently done a TED X talk which he hopes will raise the profile of his organisation even further.

Check out all the social channels for The Wheelchair Skills College here

Pete commented, “People have commented that it looks as if I’ve been running for years so for me that shows I’m building credibility… and that’s the consistency and branding coming through…it’s been a good six months and Sara’s support (on that) was definitely important in helping me along in the right direction”.


Could a Skilled Volunteer help your Organisation? Learn more and register your interest here and Will or Akash in our Skilled Volunteering team will be in touch.

About our Guest Blogger Diane Carrington

Diane lives in London with many years' experience from various roles in education. She is now establishing a career as a freelance writer. She is also an author of children’s books and seeking her first publishing agent.

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