Helping Sunderland’s brain injury survivors

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BRAIN injury sufferers are highlighting the importance of support services in helping them cope after life-threatening injuries during a national awareness week.

Headway, the brain injury association, is using Action for Brain Injury Week to raise awareness of funding for support services for those who have suffered injuries, and the impact on them due to the cuts to resources.

Headway Wearside aims to provide information, support, social 
activities and other initiatives to increase independence and reduce isolation.

The group has recently secured £21,142 funding from the adult social care grant with help from help from Sunderland City Council, and £18,000 from Lloyds Bank Foundation to help extend their work, which includes opening a new activity and therapy centre.

Kim Hunter, business and community development officer at the charity, said she is constantly looking for ways to increase services, despite funding cuts.

The Action For Brain Injury, Don’t Cut Me Out campaign, is aiming to encourage people to support the charity.

“There are a lot of cuts in services at the minute and what we are trying to do is raise our profile,” she said.

“We have a lot to offer, and we want people to have a full life and know there is support out there in communities.”

Headway Wearside officially opened its new activity and therapy centre at St Mary and St Peters Community Project, Springwell, at the official unveiling of the community mural project, on Tuesday to coincide with Action for Brain Injury Week, which ends on Sunday.

The community mural project, which has been created by Headway Wearside’s Artistic You group, and artist Chris Hollis, is just one of the projects run by the charity to help people recover from their injuries.

Called Playtime Monsters, the artwork is scenes made up of animals, trees and the seaside. Kim said she wants it to inspire people.

“We want people to come along and see what people’s achievements are and see what we do,” she said.

“It gives people the opportunity to meet survivors from the whole of the North East.”

Margaret Ellens, chairman of Headway Wearside, said Headway Wearside plays a vital role in raising awareness of brain injuries, and in raising awareness.

“I think some people don’t realise how many brain injuries there are,” she said.

“When you are faced with someone who doesn’t remember things and is different, you quickly realise nothing is ever going to be the same.”

Group helps survivor rediscover love of art

FIFTY six year old Bob Heads was on a night out when he was pushed down some stairs and beaten.

The former taxi driver ended up in intensive care at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, and had to have surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain.

Bob, of Humbledon, was in hospital for about two months – also spending time in Walkergate Hospital – before being allowed to go home for Christmas.

Wife Carole, 56, who works for Hay’s Travel, said it was hard adjusting to life with her husband post- brain injury.

“You could see he was getting better but was confused,” she said. “He was strange.

“He forgets things, like things he’s seen on the telly.

“My main concern was that he wouldn’t remember who I was, but thankfully he did.”

Bob and Carole started attending the brain injury group, and Bob has rediscovered a love for art after joining the Artistic You group, at St Mary and St Peter’s Community Project.

Seven years after suffering the almost fatal injury, he is interacting with the community, and discovering a new social life.

“I didn’t want to go to the group at first,” he said. “But now I sit and draw at home now, too.

“I’m doing things for the church and the community as well, like helping with the gardening.”

Carole added: “I had never experienced people with brain injuries before, but it has made me more aware and tolerant of people who look strange or act different.

“It has been good for Bob.”




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