A charity established due to a lack of support for brain injury survivors has received a substantial lottery windfall.
Headway Preston and Chorley has been singled out for praise as the recipient of a £10,000 handout from firm Multilotto.
The charity, based in Deepdale, says the funds will help contribute to its comprehensive support and respite services for survivors, their family and carers.
Manager Liz Bamber said: “We currently support more than 400 families and this number is growing by the day as more people survive traumatic injuries through advances in medical science and acute care in hospital.
“This makes funding such as this so very important to us and it will enable us to continue our work supporting adults after they have acquired a brain injury from critical care to community.”
Multilotto – a company offering UK customers the chance to play lotteries across the world – had been inviting nominations for worthy community causes as part of a commitment to donate a proportion of its profits to charity.
And bosses said Headway’s nomination “really stood out” from the rest.
Multilotto manager Andrew Clarke, said: “We’ve had an overwhelming response to the call out across the North West, and it’s been great reading about all of the fantastic people and good causes that are in the area.
“The nomination for Headway Preston and Chorley really stood out as they do some amazing work caring and supporting individuals and families that have been affected by brain injury.
“We’re absolutely delighted to present them with a £10,000 donation on behalf of Multilotto towards their ongoing work in Lancashire.”
Headway operates across the country and its Preston base was established in 2010. It offers support to survivors, their families and carers.
For example, the organisation holds regular drop-in advice sessions designed to develop skills and boost the confidence of brain injury sufferers and also works to raise awareness of “acquired brain injury”.
Ms Bamber added: “We are thrilled to receive this award and would like to thank Multilotto for supporting our small North West charity.”
What does Headway do?
Headway’s Preston branch was established following an accident involving the organisation’s present charity project manager Liz Bamber’s son.
The 25-year-old sustained a brain injury in a motorbike accident and the lack of support in Lancashire inspired Liz and a handful of other volunteers to create the local outlet.
Family members and carers can attend a range of sessions including drop in sessions, activity days and carers groups, where families, friends and carers can share information and support and ask for advice.
Headway Preston and Chorley also works to promote awareness of acquired brain injury in the local community by means of information, advice and training.
The charity, which operates across the country, provides factsheets and booklets about the effects of brain injury, financial advice, legal advice and guidance about claiming welfare benefits.
Acquired brain injury refers to damage caused since birth, as a result of accidents or trauma, differentiating them from those caused by genetic or congenital disorders.
To find out more about Headway Preston and Chorley visit www.headwayprestonandchorley.org.uk
Marion Aston - ‘It turned my life upside down’
In 2002, Marion Aston, was on holiday with her three-year-old son Mitchell in North Wales. They were driving with a plan to go crabbing at a nearby beach. A head-on collision meant the mother and son did not make it to their destination.
Thankfully, young Mitchell suffered minor injuries having been strapped into a child seat. Marion, though, suffered impact injuries to her head causing lasting damage to her brain.
The 51-year-old has retrograde amnesia and doesn’t remember much about the crash and her knowledge of the events – such as the roof of her vehicle having to be cut off by firefighters in order to free her – are from what she has been told since.
What Marion, who lives in Bamber Bridge, can recall is being discharged from hospital weeks later without any support services in place and having to cope with the impact of the injuries to her brain.
She said: “It’s calming down now but the first few years I used to lose my temper very quickly and I wasn’t myself. I was very unpredictable and would fly off the handle at the smallest of things. The accident turned my life upside down.”
Headway’s Preston branch had not been established around this time and Marion had initially got in touch with the organisation’s national office. She was soon put in contact with Headway officer Liz Bamber and since the local branch has been up and running in 2010, Marion has been a regular visitor.
She said: “I was told I was fit to work initially and I remember just starting to cry and I didn’t know what to do. I knew I couldn’t cope with full-time work.
“Headway has been absolutely brilliant for me, to be with people who understand brain injuries makes such a difference.
“There’s lots of things that can affect you, such as fatiguing very quickly and, for example, when you walk into a room with lots of people in it can overwhelm you.”
With Headway’s help and support, Marion is back working part-time as a swimming teacher at West View leisure centre.
“I think it’s absolutely fantastic (that the organisation has been handed the funding boost)”, she said. “They really deserve it for what they have done for everybody. It has turned me from somebody who wanted to stay in the house all the time to someone who is back out working.”
Carl Galvin - ‘They have lots of empathy and are very supportive’
There is not too much Carl Galvin can remember about the horrendous night back in April 2011. He was out with friends in Liverpool city centre watching football, he knows that much.
Days later, following an unprovoked attack, the 33-year-old remembers waking up in a hospital bed.
Originally from the Wirral, Carl moved to Ribbleton shortly after and got in touch with Headway with a view to volunteering. He wanted to be of service to others who were also suffering with what he was going through.
He said: “I’m a caring person and I just wanted to help those who had suffered brain injuries, like me. Because I was going through it, I knew I would be able to help.”
Carl has short-term memory problems, he says he can’t remember what has happened five minutes ago, and, therefore, requires supervision with certain everyday activities such as cooking.
He also struggles to express himself. “I know what I want to say, but then sometimes can’t get the words out,“ he explains. “Talking to you now, for example, I know exactly what I want to say but I struggle verbally.”
Carl volunteers at Headway and through his work with the organisation has gained, and is continuing to study towards, new qualifications, including courses in health and social care.
He explained that he now has a desire to better himself through education and is taking advantage of a fresh start.
Headway provides a sense of community for him.
He said: “It gives me an understanding that I’m not the only one. I used to feel alienated and isolated and that can lead to depression or anxiety.
“The brain is very complex and injuries to it can affect people in a lot of different ways.
“This kind of thing could happen to anyone.”
In regard to the organisation he volunteers for receiving a funding boost, Carl says the staff deserve it.
“They have lots of empathy and are very supportive,” he said. “Nothing is too big or small for them, they will always help you out, they always go out of their way.”