THERE’S no escaping the fact that sustaining a brain injury can drastically change your life, but a new Berwickshire group are intent on making sure that they don’t let their conditions get in the way of them making the most of theirs.
Heads United, who have been going for just over a year, came together after realising there wasn’t too much in the way of support for them in the Berwickshire area.
The majority of them had links with Galashiels-based Momentum Skills and although the organisation had monthly meetings in Eyemouth, service users felt they needed more regular contact with each other to set up a real support network.
So a monthly meeting involving people from all over the area then led to a weekly swim at Eyemouth Leisure Centre, followed by lunch and lunch every fortnight in Duns and member Rebecca Adams said she thought it was doing all of Heads United the world of good.
“It’s a way of us working together to learn some new skills and regain some old ones that we may have lost,” she told ‘The Berwickshire News’.
“Before Heads United started up I’d been going to Momentum sessions for about four of five years and gained some really good friends. We all felt it would be better if there was something a bit more closer to home.
“There’s around 14 of us in Heads United at the moment, all with varying degrees of brain injuries. There’s members who’ve had anurisms; people who have sustained a brain injury due to being in an accident or in a fight and there’s a real mix of ages.
“The group is very inclusive as anyone can be affected by a brain injury at any point in their lives. Unfortunately sometimes all it takes is for someone to fall and knock their heads.”
Rebecca, who herself suffers from too much fluid in her brain and spine, meaning she has spent a lot of time in hospital in both Glasgow and the Borders, said that there’s a real sense of community amongst everyone involved in Heads United and they certainly value each others support and the support of the communities they live in.
“We had an unfortunate incident at one of our meetings when a member collapsed in a busy cafe,” she explained.
“She said to me afterwards that she was so grateful she did it while she was with our group as she was mortally embrassed about the whole thing.
“The places where we have our meetings in Duns and Eyemouth are really good to us and say they enjoy having us along. In Duns we alternate between Fantooshe and the Whip and Saddle and in Eyemouth we always go to Rialto- and they’ve all been fantastic.
“A lot of local businesses have given us their backing and it’s refreshing to know there are still good people out there.”
Rebecca said it was Heads United long term goal to become a registered charity but in the short term they are hoping to fund a number of excursions, including one to the Calvert Trust, Kielder, and develop their own website.
“One issue we’ve had is the cost of transport to places; this includes likes of easy access minibus hire as the majority of people are unable to drive.
“We’re hoping with the funds that we can try and raise that this will allow us to cover the cost of transport, as well as covering the cost of the trip itself.
“Members have had opportunities to go on similar trips in the past but have been expected to pay for it themselves which hasn’t always been possible.
“We’ve just been constituted, which allows us to move into more official fundraising, and grant applications.
To kick start their fundraising efforts Heads United held their first ever coffee morning at Turnbull Court, Duns last Friday which was a big success, raising £204, and once again Rebecca said this was down to the support the group received from people in the local community.
“The support we received from various volunteers was outstanding.
“These include, but not limited to, people offering to help pour drinks, work on the sales tables, clear up, and baking and donation of goods. The support from Duns businesses itself has been mind blowing.
“We’ve had donations from most businesses in Duns, as well as a few places outside, which has bolstered our raffle and sales table. Turnbull Court also kindly allowed us to take over their normal Coffee Morning for our cause.”