In May 2015, Headway started a drop in session in my area- Headway for Medway. I have been a volunteer there since day one and it's been the best decision I've ever made.
I attend every Wednesday without fail, my family and friends know not to make any plans with me for a Wednesday as I won't be coming.
I was recently asked what Headway for Medway means to me, so I wrote it down. Little did I know that this piece of writing would have an impact, and it's now being read out at different meetings regarding our group. It didn't take me long to write, I didn't have to think about it, its all the truth and exactly how I feel. Here's what I wrote-
I've been a volunteer at Headway for Medway since it started 2 years ago. I myself have a brain injury and when I found out that the group was going to be starting up , I knew this would be beneficial for me and my Neuro-psychologist suggested that I look into a volunteer role within the group, it would give me routine, something to do and like I was achieving something. Since it had only been 1 year since the car accident that left me with a brain injury and id been struggling, I decided to take her advice and I've never looked back. I never knew how amazing the group would be.
I am not part of a group, nor am I a member. The people that attend are not clients or members- we are family!
Over the 2 years, the family has grown- we have regulars but are always having new people attend and they are welcomed. We have the best time at Headway on a Wednesday- we are all there together, we understand each other and our problems, we don't focus on our problems but we know if we want to discuss anything, we can and we all advise on ways to help. It is very comforting to have people say- I understand, I go through the same. We can't get that anywhere else.
I don't know where I would be without Headway.
To have an amazing bunch of people who are going through similar things, to call them people my family is very special. We laugh, we joke, we drink tea, we do activities if people are interested, we socialise outside of group- whether that's texting, calling, going for lunch, meeting up to play football and even nights out.
Whenever I talk about Headway, I smile, I get excited on a Tuesday night as I'm going there the next day. People have commented on how happy I am after I've been there. It has made me a happier and better person.
As well as the fun, Headway is a huge support- we can point people in the right direction if they need further help, we can advise, help with paperwork, organise meetings, attend appointments with people, chat and understand. If you need help, we can find a way of getting that help.
When I mention Headway, I talk about 'we', that's because I feel part of Headway, that's how we are made to feel and we can all help in our own little ways.
Headway for Medway cannot stop-we are too established, we have and continue to help so many people. I myself feel proud and happy to see the change in a lot of people compared to when they first attended. These are changes that can be clearly noticed and for the individual people- that is amazing for them and their recovery.
I walk away on a Wednesday feeling supported without even realising that I have been supported. The relaxed atmosphere, spending time with my family, the laughs and sometimes the tears is so special to me and If I need help, I've always got the help I need.
Headway is incredible.
I cant thank them enough for giving us this service in Medway, especially as there isn't anything even similar locally.
We all need to stay together and continue on this amazing journey together, keep helping and supporting each other and hopefully welcome lots of new people who
need us. We've learnt that brain injury isn't the end, we can still achieve, we can still have a life, the injury doesn't have to define who we all are, we have problems but we can
We can do all of this together and we can do it as a family.
To some, this might sound soppy when talking about a support group. They don't understand that when you have a brain injury, it is difficult to find people who can relate to you! So when you do find these people, its an amazing feeling, you feel like you belong. These are people who understand me more than anyone can, even more than my own family. Unless you've had a brain injury, you have no idea what it's like, you can't even begin to imagine.
I have these people in my life now, most of us have contact outside the group also which is lovely.
For me, being a volunteer doesn't make me any different to anyone else who attends, I just have a badge around my neck! I sometimes make more tea than people who aren't volunteers, that's about it. It gives me purpose, routine, sense of achievement and most of all, support.
I've sometimes worried that I rely on this group too much, especially by the way I talk about it.
Then I realised, its ONE day out of my week that I look forward to, I have a brilliant time there, it's made me better than I was and I've made lots of new friends who I'm in contact with a lot. So, what should I worry about, these are all good things and I'm getting out of it what I need to.
I would urge anyone with a brain injury or anyone that cares for someone with a brain injury, please find your local Headway if you haven't already!
Even if you don't feel ready, go to www.headway.org.uk and find where your nearest group is, have a look around the site, there is so much great information there that can help you.
Have a look out for me on the site, my story is on there.
Whenever you feel ready, go along to your local Headway.
It would be amazing for you to get out of it exactly what I do. I guarantee it will be the best thing you will ever do.
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