Time for Change
The All Party Parliamentary group have produced an Acquired Brain Injury Report called Time for change. Headway Wearside are in support of the report and Chairman Paul Brown attended the launch. This followed a successful lobbying event held in May 2018
A Brain Injury Lobbying Reception hosted by Chris Bryant, MP in Parliament in 9th May 2018 was an incredible success. Over thirty MPs came by to meet constituents and discuss their issues with Rehabilitation, community services, benefits and funding.
Brain Injury survivors, families and support groups had travelled from as far as Aberdeen, Wearside and Cornwall and numbered over seventy. Representatives from UKABIF, the Child Brain Injury Trust, BABICM and Headway UK attended as well as many regional Headway groups including Wearside, East London, West London, Worcestershire, Lincolnshire and East Sussex.
The trip was attended by Neil service user and trustee at Headway Wearside and Jimmy a service user. Neil has had a stroke and Jimmy had an infection that lead to an acquired brain injury
What was the reason for the trip to parliament , who did you meet and what happened?
Neil – I went to London to meet with the MPs, it was my own MP Bridget Philipson and Julie Elliott who had came to the gym last month to talk to us and Sharon Hodgson
We travelled by train and taxi and got there and Bridget Philipson was waiting for us. We talked about what we did at headway Wearside, we said how important it was. I told her that without it I wouldn’t be doing much, I told her how I had made new friends and how we meet up on another day and go bowling. I told her about Jimmy who is my mate now and he even comes with me to the stroke club. I also said about how the funding is always being cut and how kim has to find more so that we can do things at the centre.
We went by train and then taxi and just made it in time. We had to go through the security.
I only found out I was going the night before. I went to meet my MP Bridget Phillipson, I told her that I had firstly gone to the CABIS [Community acquired brain injury service] and then they had took me to visit Kim at headway Wearside. I told Bridget about the things I do at headway, I go to the gym 3 times a week and go to the art group. I have also met new friends and before that I didn’t go out very much except when my wife took me out. Now I can get the bus to headway.
I told her how I got my brain injury that I caught the herpes virus from drinking from a cup that my daughter had used, and she had a cold sore and that the infection travelled to my brain.
Planning, did the trip go to plan and did you learn anything from it?
Neil – before we went on 9th we did a practice run. I was so glad we did as I hadn’t been on a train in my wheelchair and I was “bricking it” the practice was good as it meant that I knew what to expect , it gave me confidence to go.
Kim did all the planning she asked if I would be able to get to the train station, we had to arrange for my carer to come in early to do my laces as I needed to be in the taxi early to get to the station. It took along time to book the assistance for the tickets on the train. I had to remember dates etc and times to tell them on the phone as it was booked in my name.
I have now learned how to do that and I have booked my own train journey to visit my friend for a week . I would not have been able to do that before.
When we got there we couldn’t go the normal way to the room as it had stairs and had to wait for someone to take us through the back way to get there.
My wife got a text and phone call from Kim at 8pm the night before asking if I would like to go as someone had to cancel as they couldn’t go. My wife asked me and I said yes. Kim and her were on the phone for a while organising it and then we tried to contact Neil to tell him I was going with him, but it was a bit late and he was already asleep. I met Neil early the next morning and we got a taxi to the train station, Neil knew where he was going as he had already been there. I just went with him . we were meeting Kim at the station. We were also meeting the chairman Paul at the station to get the train tickets from him for me. We were very early for the train but that was better.
Where there any accessibility issues?
Because I had done the dummy run with Kim we knew how to get across to the platform and the train staff helped me on and off the train. We needed to find an accessible cab at the station. I can only go in certain ones as I cannot bend my back easily . we found a cab and he was very helpful.
We had to go a different way around at parliament. The maps didn’t show a route for us but they were very helpful and escorted us out.
Jimmy - I don’t have any access issues. I walk a little slower but kept with neil, so it was all right.
What did going to parliament mean to you ? what was your favourite part of the day?
Neil – It meant that I was a star. Id never been anywhere like that before and I felt very special to be able to go to parliament. I could just be myself and talk in my own words and didn’t have to use long words. “I even used a swear word because I forgot the right word to use and she didn’t tell me off” [mp]
Jimmy – Getting my point across was good as they listened to me and it felt good, the MPs put me at my ease and made me feel comfortable.