Sunderland brain injury service saved by council cash lifeline

Margaret Ellens has been nominated for UK Carer of the Year for being sole carer of son Peter.
Margaret Ellens has been nominated for UK Carer of the Year for being sole carer of son Peter.
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A BRAIN-INJURY support service which helps hundreds of Wearsiders has been saved from closure.

From assault victims to those involved in car accidents, Sunderland Headway provides vital care to some of the city’s most seriously injured people.

But national funding cuts meant the service was struggling to survive.

Now, Sunderland City Council has stepped in to save the group and fund an officer’s post for the coming 12 months.

Paul Brown, secretary of the group, said: “Without this, the project would not have survived. We would not have been able to provide any care and would have been completely reliant on volunteers.

“The service is very important to Sunderland as the city has one of the highest hospital admissions for brain injuries in the country.”

The council has agreed to fund the business and community developer’s position at a cost of £11,500, and further funding is expected to be forthcoming.

Sunderland Headway, part of the Headway charity, was launched at the Stadium of Light in 2009.

The money will allow the charity to host more activities, provide more services and, ultimately, support more sufferers.

Mr Brown added: “It’s common for those with brain injuries and their carers to feel isolated. Headway events are a great way to make friends and realise you are not alone.”

The Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Robert Heron, officially announced the council’s support of the charity at an open day in Washington’s Millennium Centre.

Margaret Ellens dedicated her life to caring for her brain-injured son, Peter, after a road accident while he was studying in the United States in 1992.

Peter, now 49, was hit by a one-tonne truck, sustaining massive injuries, including damage to his brain.

Margaret, 81, from Sunderland, said: “Looking after someone with brain injuries can be very lonely. Sometimes you feel very isolated, as though this has only happened to you.

“I wanted to find some support, somewhere to go where I could share the experience I was going through.

“Looking after someone who is unwell is not a problem for me. I’m a trained nurse, so I can do that. But brain injuries are different in each person.

“When I learned about Headway, I wanted to get involved, and they offered me the care I was looking for.

“I’m delighted they have now got this money and are going to be able to continue looking after people.”

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