Headway Surrey is the Mayor of Guildford’s chosen charity for 2018. Its five paid staff, supported by wonderful volunteers, won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services last year.The charity helps adults across the county with an acquired or traumatic brain injury, offering cognitive rehabilitation and family support.
There are two types of brain injury:
• Acquired via a stroke, heart attack, brain tumour, blood clot, encephalitis, haemorrhage, aneurism, meningitis, hydrocephalus, carbon monoxide poisoning and other medical issues.
• Traumatic event such as a road accident, sports injury (skiing, football, rugby, boxing), work incident, assault, combat, falls, trips and slips.
Brain injury affects cognitive ability, things we take for granted such as making a cup of tea, walking, talking, reading, writing, cooking and dressing. Headway staff support those who now have problems with social skills, conversation skills and behaviour, helping individuals to control their lost inhibitions. The brain needs executive skills to make sense of information and then to make decisions. Using selected exercises and strategies, individuals can find new brain pathways around the damaged area of the brain.
The fastest recovery time is within the first two years (using cognitive rehabilitation therapy), however long-term slow stream rehabilitation can go on for decades. Headway Surrey provides a range of services: individual programmes, group workshops, home community visits, hospital liaison visits, a befriending scheme, a helpline and supportive activities for family and carers.
Another often forgotten area is the family. One minute your husband/wife, dad/mother or son/daughter is normal, the next minute they are not. Brain injury is a hidden disability – your loved one may look the same, but they are “not the same”. They may have issues not only with thinking, decision making, prioritising, memory, but also with clumsiness, balance, slurring words, hand/eye co-ordination, taste… the list is endless.
Families have their own issues and may suffer loss of friends and depression. Partners often have to give up their jobs to become full-time carers and relationships can break down.
Headway’s support activities for carers and families, therefore, are extremely valuable. Clients are matched with volunteers who enjoy similar social or recreational activities. They meet weekly, fortnightly or monthly, and might go for a coffee, a walk, visit the cinema or whatever.
• Sonja Freebody, CEO of the charity, is passionate about fundraising and she and her team will take part in the Guildford Raft Race on Saturday, 7th July. Please sponsor them by visiting www.uk.virginmoneygiving.com
• Please contact Headway about fundraising, volunteering and services on offer. Visit www.headwaysurrey.org or call 01483 455225 or email [email protected]