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Headway Shropshire

Improving life after brain injury

Headway News

Our latest news and events

Headway Shropshire Autumn Newsletter 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Autumn Newsletter 2017

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Festival Week at Headway Shropshire

Friday, August 11, 2017

Our staff in the Rehabilitation Centre have spent the last week planning and creating a Summer Festival in the centre.  Many of our clients were unfortunately unable to attend our Summer Fair which took place in the evening, so we bought the festival to the clients.

Everyday there were different activities for the clients to get involved with including a Daily Raffle with prizes donated by our supporters.  There was also a Name the Dog and Guess the Number of Sweets in the jar completion running all week. 

Clients enjoyed getting dressed up with our Photo Booth Props as you can see from the photo below.

Sarah MacBeth our Rehabilition Centre Manager was really pleased with how the event went "It was lovely to see everyone getting involved and we had lots of fun".

Support staff were adding a touch of sparkle all week by offering Glitter Art and
Temporary Tattoos.  We had lots of handmade and donated items on a stall for clients to buy throughout the week and it was a lovely way to raise some money for the Rehabilitation Centre.

Through the Eyes of a Volunteer

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Find out what it’s REALLY like to be a volunteer in the Rehabilitation Centre here at Headway Shropshire as Michael, one of our fundraisers, talks to Sally, a long-serving volunteer in the Headway Shropshire Rehabilitation Centre...

So Sally, how long have you been a volunteer at Headway Shropshire?

I think it’s 17 years this year.

And what sort of things have you done here?

Well, we used to come in and do everything – anything – you know, if washing up needed doing, and then it was suggested ‘Well why don’t we use your talents?”, so I do cognitive work because I was a primary school teacher – reading; I’m not so hot on the numbers, so it’s mostly reading, and cognitive exercises, that sort of thing. And at the moment I’ve have two clients that I work with one morning each week.

One is aphasic, so he has difficulties reading and talking; and the other one reads very well, but her sight’s been poor, and she doesn’t remember it, so she’s got memory problems but she can read very well in fact.

So do you find that you tend to read the same things more than once to help it sink in?

Well, my one client’s reading though a favourite series of books at the moment. She just wants to re-read them all because she’s read them before, but doesn’t remember any of them. But she’s getting better at remembering, because I’ll go back two or three pages, ‘Oh yes’, she says, ‘I remember that, and then he does so-and-so’, and I say ‘So you see you ARE beginning to remember’.

As for the other client I work with, he has great difficulty with speaking and gets very frustrated, and I’ll say things like ‘Well, try and go round a different way, instead of trying to do it the way you’re doing it’, and it works sometimes.

We also chat quite a lot of the time. His wife’s got a book that she sends with him, where she writes down what he’s done during the week, so it’s something to talk about from home, which I think is good.

So over time then, do you notice a progression?

Well there certainly has been with him, yes. When he first came he stood and watched for ages, but I’ve noticed we have another chap who comes along who has a similar problem, and they are now talking to each other, and a year ago they weren’t. So he’s more relaxed.

You say a year ago they weren’t talking to each other?

Not in the way they are now.

Is that the timescale you find is common for seeing progression?

No, everybody’s different you see, it’s very difficult to put a timing on anything, because every brain injury is different.

So from the clients’ point of view, what would you say are the main benefits of coming here?

I would think a lot of it is social, to start with anyway, because some of our clients are living alone, or they’ve got problems at home, and I think the social side is very important. I used to say to the manager here, ‘I haven’t done much today’ and she’d said, ‘Yes you have – social interaction’, and that’s just as important. Often if clients don’t feel like doing any activities, they still want to have chats, especially if they’ve no-one at home to chat to, and even if they’ve got a wife or a husband they’re probably out anyway, so they’re on their own all day.

Do you find you have to push the clients much to get them involved in doing things?

No, you can’t do that. You can’t make clients do things. It often comes from them, when they want to do something like reading or something like that. Then the volunteer organiser will approach me and say how about doing something with so-and-so, and I’ll say ‘yes, fine’ and we go from there.

There was one chap, he’d never painted. His wife was an artist, and he said, ‘Oh no, I just do the frames’ (because I think he was a joiner or carpenter). He’d never painted before and yet he did the most beautiful watercolours, which is one of the most difficult things to do, and I thought, if he hadn’t come to Headway, he’d never have done that.

Apart from the activities, do you think on the social side that confidence increases as people attend?

Yes, I think it does, as people get to know each other. There’s a chap who comes on a Tuesday, and I can remember his face when he came in, as if to say ‘What on earth am I doing here?’ So you find at first that some people have a hard time accepting it, but he soon settled in!

And what can you say to people to give them comfort and support in that situation?

It’s difficult. We talk, and I’ll say, ‘What happened to you?’ and ‘What did you do before?’ and things like that. And then I can say, ‘Well, you’ve done that, and nobody can take that away from you.’

What’s the most rewarding thing about being a volunteer at Headway?

I think making friends really. There are a lot of lovely people. Not everybody gets on with everybody else; that’s life. It is rewarding when you see improvements, like when a client says, ‘I can’t remember a thing I read last week’ and then she starts reading and she says ‘Oh yes, I DO remember this!’ and you think – well things are beginning to improve. There’s always something, or you make someone laugh, that sort of thing.

What sort of advice would you give to someone if they are thinking of becoming a volunteer at Headway Shropshire?

Well one thing I would say is – do it, and don’t come and go, because we’ve had people who have come and not stayed, which is difficult for the clients, because they really like continuity.

Also, one of the problems with aphasia, which a lot of brain-injured people have, is that if they’re around people who are talking like we are, by the time they’ve got it sorted in their heads, you’re onto the next thing! So it’s important to speak more slowly, leave pauses. You have to think about that.

And how do you see things developing here in the future?

Well, more money is always needed. But it’s really nice to see that the atmosphere in the building is positive and happy, and that’s something that has survived despite all the challenges and changes over the years.

Well, thanks Sally for your time and for a very detailed insight into Headway Shropshire “through the eyes of a volunteer”.

Do you have what it takes to be a Volunteer?

Friday, May 15, 2015

What We Offer

At Headway Shropshire, our volunteers enjoy the unique and fulfilling experience of working with brain-injured people. It’s a volunteering opportunity like no other.

If you want to give something back and contribute to our work with people who have acquired brain injuries, here are some of the things that you might become involved in as a volunteer:

  • - Helping out with activities where we have a need, such as painting with client, assisting in the woodwork room, helping a client to cook a meal in our kitchen.
  • - Playing board games or helping with reading.
  • - Engaging our clients in conversation or spending time listening to someone.

We will never expect you to carry out tasks like first aid, personal care or moving & handling – our specialist staff is always on hand take care of those things.

What We Need From You

First of all, we can only accept adult volunteers over 18 years of age. Secondly, we can’t accept clients or their relatives as volunteers because, as you will understand, we need to protect the confidentiality of our other clients.

Secondly, our brain-injured clients need continuity. They need to know that you will be there for them on the same day each week. For our clients, many of whom live alone, our Rehabilitation Centre is a real lifeline. It hits them hard when a volunteer comes for a week or two and then leaves just when they’re getting to know each other. 

For these reasons, we always ask for a commitment that is fair to our clients:

- You’ll work at the Rehabilitation Centre from 10am until 3pm on an agreed day each week.
- You’ll commit to at least three months with us.

If that sounds good to you, take a look at how to make it happen:

The Process

The first step is to get in touch! Then, a member of staff will call you to check a few of the basics, for example that you are an adult and can make a commitment to three months, one day each week between 10am-3pm. If all is well, we’ll then agree a date and time for you to come in and see our Rehabilitation Centre where all of our volunteering work takes place.

During the visit, we’ll talk you through everything and show you around.

After the visit, we encourage you to wait a little while to consider carefully whether this kind of volunteering role is for you.

If you still want to go ahead, there’s a little paperwork to do. We’ll ask you to complete an application form and provide two character references. You will understand that we have to protect our vulnerable clients.

If your application and references are OK, we will arrange for you to make a start!

You will get all the support you need so that you can give of your best!

One of Life’s Goal Scorers – Carl’s Story

Friday, April 24, 2015
If you think that Acquired Brain Injury is all bad news, you’ll be moved and inspired by this uplifting story from one of Headway Shropshire’s Rehabilitation Centre clients...

Carl leads a very active life. He’s always been that way and he probably always will be. It’s in his bones. In the past, Carl played football and took it pretty seriously by all accounts. He was even awarded player’s player of the year and manager’s player of the year. Aside from football, Carl enjoyed motocross and karting. Having a love of cars, one day he decided after a lot of soul searching to spend a little money on himself and buy what he calls his “selfish car” – the sports car of his dreams.  All in all, Carl was in good shape as he approached his 50th birthday, and enjoying a full life.

Carl’s go-kart and motocross bike

Of course, given that this is a Headway Shropshire article, you’re probably thinking that a momentous event is about to take place in Carl’s story, and you would be right. On 9th May last year, Carl had a serious stroke. He was admitted to hospital and remained there until July. He lost all movement down his left side.

Lying in hospital, with time to think, Carl started to assess the situation he was in. He realised it was serious; about serious as it could get. He didn’t really yet know how his recovery would go. He had visions of his motocross bike, his kart and his beloved sports car, all sitting idle, never to be used again, and started to see just how many changes he would need to make in his new life.

Most people who wake from a coma and find themselves with the effects of brain injury start off with feelings of denial, “I’ll soon be back to my old self”, or anger – the “why me?” routine. But unlike many people in that situation, Carl soon shrugged off such feelings and began to see his brain injury as just another of life’s challenges – his greatest challenge yet.

He began to apply the tremendous willpower and perseverance that he has always applied to his life. As before his brain injury, he began to regard his recovery as a process to be worked through, setting goals, deciding on the steps he needed to take to attain those goals, and working through those steps.

"finding new ways"

Of course, it was not as easy as it sounds. During those early weeks when Carl was in hospital, he knew deep down that there was a real chance that at any time he could hit the limits of what he would ever be capable of. But those thoughts did not stop him for a second.
Soon, Carl stayed in hospital only during the week, receiving on-going physiotherapy, and spending his weekends at home, beginning to relearn whatever skills he needed to live independently again. It was such a struggle. With overwhelming stiffness and loss of use of his left side, he had to learn how to wash and dress himself. On top of that, he had problems with balance, and spent many a weekend hauling himself up and down the stairs; learning new techniques and finding new ways forward.

During this time, it was Carl’s tremendous determination that kept him going, together with the help of his partner, work colleagues and family. He also found support in another guy who was going through the same thing. They egged each other on through difficult physiotherapy exercises and practice.
It’s a reflection of his success that in July, merely two months after his devastating stroke, Carl was assessed as ready to leave hospital. His physiotherapy would continue and does to this day, but now he was entering a new phase of life with a brain injury.

Back at home, Carl began to accept that his life would never be the same as it was before. For Carl, this does not mean “worse”, it just means “not the same”. He realised that playing team football was probably out, and that motocross was probably out. But he knew that his mobility was still improving, so he decided to set himself a couple of goals that he knew full-well may be out of his reach. But not knowing for sure whether a goal is possible never stops Carl from trying. Carl set out to get his mobility to the stage where he could experience the thrill of karting again. He also dreamed of driving his sports car again and set his sights firmly on that goal knowing full well that it might be out of his reach.

"back behind the wheel"

A huge amount of heartache, pain and sheer hard work followed, culminating in a driving assessment in Cannock, using an adapted car. Carl was shown how to operate the sophisticated wireless control pad attached to the steering wheel. It enables you to use all of the hand controls of the car, but with only one hand, and has a handle that is used to turn the steering wheel. Carl quickly got the hang of it - and was euphoric when he was assessed as fit to drive! Soon afterwards, Carl had his own car adapted in the same way as the one has drove during his assessment, and incredibly he soon found himself back behind the wheel of his cherished sports car! If you come to Headway Shropshire when Carl does, you will see it parked outside. Karting, Carl’s other goal, has also been attained. He goes regularly to “Full Throttle” in Stourbridge for a spin around the track. Knowing how determined Carl can be, I for one would not want to be on that same track!

Carl at the specially-adapted controls of his dream car.
As for the future, not one for resting on his laurels, Carl has yet more goals in his sights. He wants to play football again, not in a team, but with enough mobility and balance to kick a football around just for fun. He’s planning a sponsored 5km walk (splitting the proceeds between the hospital and Headway Shropshire), and he’s also planning an epic road trip, driving to Monaco to see the 2015 Formula One Grand Prix – a trip of more than 1,100 miles each way!

"not a sob story and not a sad story"

So Carl’s story is not a sob story and it’s not a sad story. It’s a story of life, peppered with determination, hope, optimistic realism and achievement.
Of course, Headway Shropshire cannot claim credit for the tremendous goals that Carl has achieved, but as for many with an acquired brain injury, our rehabilitation centre has offered a lifeline to Carl, providing not just relearning and re-ablement, but also social rehabilitation and support from people going through different stages of a similar journey. As Carl himself says, “I’d recommend Headway to anyone”.

Carl has kindly given his permission to publish this article on the Headway Shropshire website and in the Headway Shropshire newsletter.

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Headway Shropshire

Holsworth Park

Oxon Business park



United Kingdom


Tel:   01743 365565

Fax:  01743 365563

Email: admin@headwayshropshire.org.uk

Headway Shropshire is a Registered Charity (No. 1100376) and is a Company Limited by Guarantee

(No. 4884834) registered in England.