Headway Suffolk

Ipswich Hub 01473 712225

Bury Hub 01284 702535

Cycle Ride postponed

Cycle Ride Update

Unfortunately we have decided to postpone the Cycle Ride and Walk planned for September.

We hope to stage the event in April next year.

Headway receives Suffolk Award honour

Headway Suffolk has received The Suffolk Award from HM Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare Countess of Euston, and the High Sheriff of Suffolk, Edward Creasy, for ‘Outstanding Service to the Community during the Covid-19 pandemic’.

The award was presented to the charity’s Chair, Owen Thurtle, and CEO, Helen Fairweather, on a visit to our Ipswich Hub in West Road on the Ransomes Europark on 25th August 2021.

Mr Creasy was able to hear from service users on the direct impact Headway Suffolk has made to them during the past 18 months and then he joined them for an exercise to music session!

Three members of staff, Trina Robus (Hub Manager), James Stewart (Support Worker), and Jenni Hayter (Community Support Worker), were also recognised for their hard work and dedication in helping Headway Suffolk adapt its services to continue supporting clients when Covid first struck in March 2020.

Helen Fairweather said: “We are very thankful to the High Sheriff to receive The Suffolk Award and recognising how we took on new services and helped our vulnerable clients while they were isolating and shielding at home to keep safe.

“I am also very pleased that individual staff have been rewarded for their efforts with helping the team pull together at a time of a national and worldwide crisis and ensuring we continued supporting our clients in different ways to keep them as healthy and well as possible.”

Headway Suffolk is a registered charity that supports adults living with brain injury, stroke and neurological conditions through an extensive range of rehabilitation and therapy services.

As coronavirus struck, we had to close our face-to-face services but we quickly adapted to implement a virtual hub and provided free devices so clients could access rehab online, as well as delivering activity books to help cognitive stimulation.

We saw a big increase in demand for our homecare services from Suffolk County Council and we supported them and helped hospitals with the discharge of patients.

We cooked and delivered nutritional hot meals and registered as a food bank to supply food parcels. Counselling sessions moved remotely and we supported clients at an outdoor gym in between lockdowns so they could work on fitness, improve mental health and play sports.

Our Ipswich hub is now open Monday to Friday and our Bury St Edmunds hub is currently open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. All face-to-face therapy sessions, community support activities and homecare services have now returned to normal but still with infection control measures in place for the safety of everyone.

Brain, Body, Balance programme

Headway Suffolk is running a Brain, Body, Balance programme for adults living with brain injury, stroke and neurological conditions, which focuses on improving physical health and emotional wellbeing following lockdown.

Participants will have the opportunity to try different activities such as pole walking and other exercises, which will focus on posture, balance and the importance of exercise to brain health.

Participants should be able to walk a short distance independently.

The sessions will run on Wednesday’s from 10.30am – 2.30pm for five weeks from 25 August to 22 September. Participants will need to bring their own lunch.

The course will include pole walking practice, dynamic exercises, active relaxation, park walks, outdoor activities and peer support.

It takes place at Headway Suffolk’s hub in Olding Road, Bury St Edmunds, which is located near to Asda. Some sessions will be run outdoors at local parks.

The course is provided free of charge. Participants can make a donation to Headway Suffolk if they wish to.

Anyone interested in the course should contact Hilary Wiltwell, Senior Bury Hub, on 01284 702535 or email hilarywhitwell@headwaysuffolk.org.uk.

To find out about our latest courses available, go to our courses page.

Vote for Hope in SuperDog Awards

A very special Brainy Dog in Suffolk needs your votes to win the Naturo SuperDog Award!

Hope has been working with clients at local charity Headway Suffolk for 8 years, providing rehab and therapy for those living with brain injury, stroke and neurological conditions.

Hope also works with prisoners, probationers, adults with mental health issues and learning disabilities, and children who have struggled in mainstream education.

Brainy Dogs co-ordinator Sophie Wellum-Mayes: “She has an exceptional ability to reach anyone she works with, whether that means a cuddle or playing ball.

“She is full of love for everybody no matter their past, and she shows everybody their worth. She has a way of making everybody feel better.”

Vote for Hope:
superdogawards.co.uk/nominations/3277

Dementia Groups Are Back

Headway Suffolk is delighted to confirm, following temporary closure due to Covid, the return of our monthly social support groups to their community buildings for people living with dementia in Ipswich, Martlesham and Castle Hill.

The groups provide stimulating and engaging activities, such as indoor games, cognitive exercises, discussions and social interaction.

The cost is £7 per person and this includes a fish and chips lunch and refreshments. The person with dementia must be accompanied by a carer.

Ipswich Group

2nd Friday of the month, from 11.45am – 3.15pm

At St Augustine’s Church, Bucklesham Road, Ipswich IP3 8TH

The next date the group meet is on Friday 13 August 2021.

Martlesham Group

4th Thursday of the month, from 11.45am – 3.15pm

At St Michael’s Church Centre, The Drift, Martlesham IP5 3PL

The next date the group meet is on Thursday 26 August 2021.

Castle Hill Group

4th Friday of the month, from 11.45am – 3.15pm

At Castle Hill United Reformed Church, Dryden Road, Castle Hill IP1 6QF.

The next date the group meet is on Friday 27 August 2021.

If you would like to make a referral or find out more details, contact Maureen Howes on 01473 712225 or email: maureenhowes@headwaysuffolk.org.uk.

Cycle Ride and Walk – Saturday 5 September

Headway Suffolk stages its 13th annual Cycle Ride and Walk in Ipswich and the surrounding area on Saturday 4 September to raise vital funds for its rehabilitation, therapy and support services.

The ride comprises three different routes – 30, 40 and 50 miles – going through the nearby area and each starting and finishing at the brain injury charity’s base on West Road in Ipswich.

The walk is a 10-mile disability-friendly route, again from its Ipswich hub, that goes through Kesgrave. Walkers will be able to enjoy refreshments at the half way point, generously supplied by The Bell in Kesgrave.

Like most charities, Headway Suffolk has been significantly impacted by Covid over the past year with its services severely restricted during lockdowns and its income drastically reduced.

Helen Fairweather, Chief Executive at Headway Suffolk, said: “After a very difficult and worrying year for the charity, we are pleased to have increased our services for clients as restrictions have eased.

“The Cycle Ride and Walk is a great opportunity to come together and celebrate everyone’s efforts in getting through the pandemic. There is always wonderful camaraderie and team spirit.

“All sponsorship raised will help us increase our range of services for people in Suffolk living with brain injury, stroke and neurological conditions and their families.”

The ride and walk is open to everyone and is an ideal team-building exercise for companies with the Headway Shield presented to the team that raises the most sponsorship.

It’s free to take part if you gain sponsorship of £10 minimum, or just £10 registration fee.

All participants receive a warm welcome and free refreshments at the finish!

Further information is available at www.headwaysuffolk.org.uk/events.

Last year, passionate cyclists and walkers responded to Headway Suffolk’s call for support by raising a fantastic £5,000 for the charity, including local businesses Timberwolf, Glemham Underwriting Ltd, Barnes Construction and Seven Group, an asset and property management company.

Seven’s group director Jackie Dunnett took part in the walk after her husband Roy Dunnett suffered a stroke and was supported by Headway Suffolk.

Jackie said: “The five-mile walk from Headway to the quay was really nice with great weather and we stopped for coffee at Isaacs. But the walk back was much more difficult!

“Headway were fantastic with Roy after his stroke, so it’s good to give some support back.”

Local brain injury survivor Anna Leggett also took part in the walk and said: “I felt quite emotional doing it, especially going back to Headway for the first time after three years when I was in a bad way during my rehab and realising how far I’ve come. I really am thankful to Headway for their support when I needed it.”

Dementia groups in July

Headway Suffolk continues to run social support groups for people living with dementia during the current Covid restrictions.

The group take part in a variety of stimulating and engaging activities, such as indoor games, cognitive exercises, discussions and social interaction.

It costs £7 per person, which includes a fish and chips lunch and refreshments. The person with dementia must be accompanied by a carer/partner.

When + Where?

The group takes place on Friday 25th June, Friday 2nd July and Friday 23rd July from 11.45am – 3.15pm and is currently held at Headway’s hub at Epsilon House, West Road, Ransomes Europark, Ipswich, IP3 9FJ.

Once Covid restrictions have fully eased in August, we will update on details going forward for the Ipswich group, Martlesham group and Castle Hill group.

Find out more

To find out more, contact Maureen Howes on 01473 712225 or email maureenhowes@headwaysuffolk.org.uk.

How support helped Sam Norris to study during lockdown

Teenage speedway rider Sam Norris has spoken of the support he received to help him study at home with a brain injury during lockdown, to mark Headway’s campaign for Action for Brain Injury Week.

Headway’s ‘A life of lockdown?’ campaign during 17-23 May focuses on social isolation after brain injury – a problem that has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The campaign aims to give a voice to survivors and carers to help them better explain to their friends and families the challenges they face as a result of brain injury.

Sam is a 17-year-old speedway rider from Linton, near Haverhill, who suffered a life-threatening brain injury in a crash in Glasgow in June 2019, but his incredible recovery and determination saw him back on a bike just eight months later.

After returning home from intense rehab to continue his recovery, Sam went back to school to complete his final year and GCSEs, but soon had to get used to home studying as lockdown began.

Sam had help from his mum Claire and the Cambridge Centre for Paediatric Neuropsychological Rehabilitation (CCPNR) – the first NHS community-based service in the UK offering assessment and neuropsychological rehabilitation for children with an acquired, non-progressive brain injury as a result of an accident, injury, illness or other condition.

He said: “Throughout lockdown I was lucky enough to be supported by the CCPNR. I had weekly Microsoft teams meetings around supporting and managing my fatigue and emotions and looking and understanding how it affected me physically, emotionally, and cognitively.

“Things suddenly appeared to make sense as it is hard to understand why you feel the way you do as I felt okay within myself most of the time.

“I still walk and talk differently now. My eyes display when I am fatigued and the way I speak alters and I have a language disorder.

“My thought process slows down, but I fight it every step of the way, but to people who do not know the old Sam they would never know what I have been through.”

After passing two of his exams, Sam is now studying motor mechanics at Cambridge Regional College and plans to move up to level 2 in September.

“Lockdown was hard looking at a screen three days a week as it affected my fatigue,” he added, “so I am glad we are sort of getting back to normal.”

Sam and Claire made their first public speaking appearance at Headway Suffolk’s Neuro Conference on 12 May.

The video of their speech is available to purchase for £15 to support the charity’s services.

The three-hour video also features presentations made at the conference from Dawn Astle, a prominent campaigner to prevent dementia in football, Dr Sajid Alam, the stroke lead at Ipswich Hospital, and Ellen Boucher, researcher at the University of East Anglia’s SCORES project.

To buy, call 01473 712225 or email info@headwaysuffolk.org.uk.

For more on Headway’s Action for Brain Injury Week campaign, visit www.headway.org.uk/isolation.

England rugby star Steve Thompson faced abuse for speaking out about dementia

Former England rugby star Steve Thompson has revealed that he has faced abuse for speaking out over the dangers of playing the sport.

Steve, who won the World Cup with England in 2003, was diagnosed with early onset dementia at the age of 42 and probable CTE – a degenerative brain condition that is thought to be caused by repeated blows to the head.

Steve was speaking to ITV Anglia ahead of being a keynote speaker at Headway Suffolk’s Neuro Conference on 12 May. He will be joined by Dawn Astle, Ellen Boucher, Sam Norris and Dr Sajid Alam.

The conference is being streamed online and tickets cost £20. To find out more and book, go to our events page.

To watch Steve’s full video interview, along with input from Dr Grey on his SCORES project. go to the ITV Anglia page.

Life now for Sam Norris ahead of Conference speech

Claire Norris has spoken of the frustrations that living with a brain injury can bring while remaining positive at the continued progress in recovery.

Claire is the mother of Sam Norris – the 17–year-old Suffolk speedway rider who suffered a life-threatening brain injury in a crash while racing in Glasgow in June 2019.

It was touch and go if Sam would survive, and the remarkable strides he has made in his recovery in less than two years has been a big influence on others going through the same situation and won him admirers globally.

Claire was giving an update on how life is for the family now ahead of her and Sam being keynote speakers at brain injury charity Headway Suffolk’s Neuro Conference on 12 May, which will be live streamed online.

“Sam is frustrated at the moment. On the outside he wants to get back racing and be able to drive, but it’s the hidden things that frustrate,” she said.

“He feels cheated as he was doing very well and he sees what others are doing on social media and he wants to be there. But he’s passionate about getting back to where he was and he’s so motivated and driven to prove that.

“A lot of people are affected by injuries. It’s still raw, you live it every day as it’s always there, but life moves on.”

Sam is currently studying motor mechanics at Cambridge Regional College and plans to move up to level 2 in September. But home studying during Covid hasn’t come easy.

Claire, a special needs teaching assistant and intervener, said: “It was quite a struggle. It was three days online looking at a screen and that was difficult for Sam with his fatigue. Fortunately I was also at home so I was able to help. Now he’s back at college two days a week with one day online and he loves it.”

As part of the practical experience for his studies, Sam has been working on the 250cc grasstrack bike on which he was unbeaten just two weeks before his accident.

Sam already returned to a bike on a GT140 eight months after the accident, and he now plans to race the 250cc bike for the first time on 20 June in a Classic Grasstrack Club meeting near Stansted on the second anniversary of his accident.

“Putting the engine back in has brought back a lot of memories,” said Sam, after the engine was taken out and the bike stored away on his return from hospital. “Seeing all the equipment again like the brand new framekick makes me realise how I lucky I am.”

The guidance and support of his father Chris has been integral in Sam’s mechanical learning at the family home in Linton, near Haverhill. Sam also supports Chris with the restoration of classic fighter jets.

“He always says ‘Dad makes things look easy’,” said Claire. “He’s teaching him all the way through, letting him take ownership and giving him the knowledge.”

While Sam remains focused on being back on the grasstrack bike in the summer, with the ultimate dream of returning to speedway when ready, Claire reveals the frustration at the lengthy process for Sam to be able to drive.

“We started the application to the DVLA in August and disclosed his brain injury. It’s a frustrating wait for Sam, because if he didn’t have the brain injury he would have had it by now.”

Fatigue remains the main difficulty for Sam day to day. “My fatigue is still there but it’s reduced heavily and now comes on at the end of the working around 4, 5 or 6pm,” he said.

Claire added: “Lockdown meant he could stay at home and this helped his fatigue. It’s still there, and if he was to have a grasstrack meeting at the weekend he would have to prepare for it the whole week rather than just the night before.

“What we want to emphasise at the Conference is that sad things happen and it’s fighting for the support you need. Every case is different. Looks can be deceiving. It’s very much a hidden injury but you can still achieve, even if it’s in a different way.”

Sam and Claire will talk about their experience in their first public speaking appearance at the Neuro Conference on 12 May, with Sam finishing with poem written by them both.

Tickets for the online event cost just £20 and can be bought by calling 01473 712225 or email info@headwaysuffolk.org.uk. Full details are on www.headwaysuffolk.org.uk/events.

Also speaking are:

  • Steve Thompson – former England Rugby world champion with 73 caps who has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia possibly due to the effects of playing.

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