Norfolk charity makes headway in quest to raise awareness of brain injury

Headway event for brain injury Awareness in Gorleston.   
Left to right.. Alva Bunce, Laura Jones, Daniel Drew and Fergal Farrell. Headway event for brain injury Awareness in Gorleston. Left to right.. Alva Bunce, Laura Jones, Daniel Drew and Fergal Farrell.

Saturday, May 24, 2014
2:00 PM

‘Brain injured, not brain dead’... these five words sum up the struggle many victims of brain injury encounter on a daily basis.

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They were pinned to a hat worn with pride at Headway’s rehabilitation day centre in Gorleston last Friday when the Norfolk and Waveney branch of the national charity marked Brain Injury Awareness Week.

There are 49 people who attend Headway House in Trafalgar Road East, some physically disabled as a result of a brain injury, others with ‘hidden’ consequences that went unnoticed for years before they were able to access support.

The complex effects of brain injury are varied and unique; each person is affected in a different way whether it was a stroke or a car crash that caused the damage in the first place. But frustration and a lack of understanding from the outside world is something most on the road to recovery have come across.

The Norfolk and Waveney branch of Headway, which also has centres in Norwich and Kings Lynn, is hoping to raise public awareness of brain injury to two reasons. One, to help victims live normal lives in their communities and two, to reach out to people who have suffered an injury but are not be aware there is help available.

Last week members of the public were invited to ‘donate’ words associated with the human brain and on Friday, centre users took those words and painted them onto a board to be hung on the centre wall.

As well as a way of getting everyone involved in Brain Injury Awareness week, the project was an example of how Headway on the coast helps victims reclaim control of their lives. The centre has a woodwork shop where people learn entirely new skills while improving coordination and mobility. There is a fully accessible kitchen where they can learn to cook from scratch regardless of whether their culinary skill before the accident that lead to injury was little more than using a microwave.

There is also space for clients to hang out and simply be in the company of others in similar situations.

Laura Jones, director of client services with Headway Norfolk and Waveney, said: “We support people who come to the centre to reacquire skills that a lot of us take for granted such as relearning how to cook.

“But we also support them through out-reach work, one-to-one support in their homes and in the community, which could be relearning a skill or reintegrating them into the community.

“Something I would love to do is offer sessions for people with minor injuries who may not need centre support, like sessions around anger management or stress.

“Brain injury is a very hidden disability for a lot of people. We really want to raise awareness. There are a lot of people who aren’t aware of us or what we do. We want that to change.”

For more information on the work of Headway, or to find out if they could help you or someone you know who is affected by brain injury, call Headway House on 01493 442994 or visit www.headway.org.uk.

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