A new support group for people with brain injuries will be officially launched next week, closing a significant gap in provision in the Borders.
It hopes to increase awareness of brain injury and its consequences and provide information and support for sufferers, their relatives and carers and concerned professionals.
Attending the launch of Headway Borders, from 10.30am to 3.30pm at the Abbey Row Centre, Kelso, will be Mike Kerr, GB wheelchair rugby captain. There will also be live music and buffet.
Prior to the establishment of the branch the nearest Headway support groups were in Berwick or Musselburgh.
Maria Burnett, east Scotland regional co-ordinator for the charity, said the creation of the branch was vital as travelling long distances can be a huge problem for sufferers.
“Brain injury can affect so many different things - walking, talking, emotions, and especially cognitive things like concentration and memory.
“Fatigue can also be a huge problem, and it is not like normal tiredness, it is like a car running out of petrol - when it hits you, you have to rest.”
She added: “Headway is about getting people back into society and enabling them to live their life again.
“It is about showing that there is life after a brain injury - yes it might mean living in a different way, but it is still a worthwhile life and one that can be enjoyed.”
The branch will help people re-learn skills and will also enable peer support.
“Being with people that understand how they feel and who can give advice on getting through day-to-day challenges and suggest coping strategies is important,” Maria said.
“People’s personalities can be affected, and you do see many people whose relationships have broken down or have lost friends, so we can help families and friends understand and help them with coping strategies too.”
The branch meets every second Thursday of the month from 2pm to 4pm at the Abbey Row Centre.
Maria said: “We have lots of things on the go, including arts and crafts, but if people just want to come for a coffee and a chat and relax they can.
“There are board games, which assists cognitive development, and we help people cook simple meals, which promotes independence.
“We’re hoping to get various speakers in, and if we can get the funding we can have trips out, which is especially important here because some people might not see anyone else from month to month.”
Headway support people with both acquired and traumatic brain injury, no matter how it is sustained.