Askham Rehab Realities of Rehabilitation


Askham Rehab, a specialist provider of rehabilitation services in Cambridgeshire, sits within Askham Village Community’s group of care services.

In 2020, following the introduction of pioneering robotic equipment, AVC looked to position its rehabilitation services as a more independent offering, with a dedicated new website created to outline its specialist capabilities to potential leads.

In early 2021, as an agency, we were tasked with promoting Askham’s rehab offering to a wider audience in a way that underlined its specialist approach to care. And whilst Askham’s specialism is relatively niche, it wanted to generate widespread, national level awareness of its capabilities to ensure those in need of its services knew they were there.


Immediately, we recognised the strongest PR hook available to us centred on the stories of successful users of Askham’s services. We believed this person-centric element would strike a chord with the relevant media, while case studies of successful rehabilitation would also resonant and potentially inspire prospective users of the service.

Furthermore, those individuals featured would be given a platform to tell their story – enabling them to talk about the adversity they’d overcome and the progress they’d made.

The care recipients at Askham have diverse backgrounds, while their circumstances around admission are enormously varied, with a number of those in long-term rehab suffering from a rare illness or condition. An added benefit then, would be the raising awareness of these conditions.

Working with the team at Askham to uncover the backstories of those receiving rehab, we uncovered a wealth of emotional material that we could position in a press-friendly format to both emphasise Askham’s expertise and to allow the recipients to relay their story in a positive, rewarding way.

Outlining a year-long campaign, we sought to develop four definitive user case studies within that timeframe, supplemented by collateral PR activity, such as securing expert feature opportunities with the relevant trade press to project Askham’s expertise, while also highlighting its use of high-level robotic equipment.

For each case study, we planned to use our in-house video team to capture the relevant imagery and film their stories – in a bid to project both the rehabilitative expertise of Askham’s services and the emotive element from the individual.

With Askham’s provision of services very much dependent on individual circumstances, we had to factor in being able to work with whoever was admitted during this time.Working with the Askham team, we sifted through the patients currently undergoing rehab and cherry-picked the most suitable for a potential case study based on their progress. We then put the relevant processes in place.

From this, we established four core stories:

Hayley – who, after initially being completely paralysed by a rare neurological condition, was able to take a few independent steps and looking to return home.

Hajrah – who, having caught Covid whilst 35 weeks pregnant, was in a coma for six weeks after giving birth and had to undertake 11 weeks of rehab to recover enough to return home and care for her new-born baby.

Joshua – a former radio host, who was desperate to return to the airwaves after a brain tumour limited his speech.

David – a former carpenter who suffered a traumatic brain injury and an arm amputation following a car crash.

With the relevant case studies earmarked, and the individuals involved fully onboard, we arranged filming dates, through which we captured the content that would allow us to draft case study centric written press releases, as well as producing videos. These formed the dual purpose of allowing us to outline Askham’s expertise, while also emphasising the emotive human element.

The case studies were all different, meaning we took a different approach for each. For instance, with Josh’s, we liaised with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire to arrange for him to go on one of their radio programmes – helping him to realise his dream of returning to radio, which we made a key focus of the subsequent release.

We also chose appropriate news hooks – for instance, with Hayley’s story we recognised her rehab was nearing completion in the run up to Mother’s Day. So we positioned the story as being about her getting back to her family to enjoy Mother’s Day with her children – focusing on her ability to walk independently through the front door and back into the family home. And, with David’s story, we coincided its release to go out during Brain Injury Awareness month to maximise its relevance.


Over the course of the campaign, we achieved more than 350 pieces of individual press coverage across all four case studies.

This included national news media such as the BBC, Sky News, Mail Online, Independent, Daily Mirror, The Sun, the Metro, Sunday Mirror, Evening Standard and more – with Hajrah and Josh’s story in particular being widely featured by the national news.

Furthermore, we achieved widespread regional media coverage via PA Media, while our relationships with Askham’s local press secured some excellent coverage, including a front-page print feature in the Fenland Citizen for David’s story, as well as a double page spread in the Ely Standard – Askham Rehab’s main local newspapers.

Additionally, we secured regional broadcast coverage on BBC Look East and ITV East Anglia for Hajrah’s case study, where she was interviewed about her recovery.

At the time of submitting this entry, Josh is also set to appear on the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 in early March having been invited on following our PR outreach.

In the wake of our PR activity, Askham Rehab’s average website traffic was up 67%, when comparing the averages from the first half of 2021 against the latter, with 88.7% of those being new users, while the press activity caused specific spikes in web traffic – with Hajrah’s story in particular driving a 1084% spike in visitors. The contact page on the website has also seen a 96.36% increase in unique visitors.

An added impact was on those care recipients involved, who benefitted from a cathartic experience in telling their individual stories – a positive that all commented on following the process.

This campaign won a 2022 PRCA Dare Award for Best Media Relations Campaign, while it was also shortlisted as a finalist in the PRCA Dare Grand Prix.