A Decade in Review at Headway!

As a new decade approaches, we're taking a little look back at how things have changed at Headway East London, whilst chatting to a few people who have been a part of our community for the last 10 years....

Decadeinreview Tony

Flashback to 2009. We had just moved from our previous Shoreditch address to Kingsland Road in Haggerston, which we still call home today. In some ways a lot has changed: the number of people we support has increased by a staggering 395% to 940 people last year. We've also established a range of new services, including Community Support, Casework and a community Therapy Service in Enfield. And our creative projects (from music, to art, to food, and writing) have gone from strength to strength. But in many other ways, our community still retains the same magic it did then. Part of this may be due to the fact that many people here today were also around back in 2009! We caught up with a few to see how things have changed and why Headway is still important to them now....

Decadeinreview Thomas
Thomas, Kitchen Projects Lead (started 2010)

When I started working here, lunch meant a trip to Tesco's for sandwich ingredients. It was a time-consuming, unrewarding task which rarely if ever involved members, and the sandwiches themselves were nothing special. We started on Fridays, making soup and soda bread with a group of members, and soon realised that we'd hit on something. There were plenty of enthusiastic hands to make the food and it made a far tastier and healthier meal for everyone. My colleague Ali, who was instrumental in starting it all off, installed a commercial-style kitchen for us.

We were soon cooking lunch every day of the week, drawing on members' own recipes and food interests. And we haven't looked back since: today around 6 people work in the kitchen every day, making lunch for 40. Our supper clubs too are now regular fixtures on our calendar, showcasing our food to the local community too.

It's hard now to imagine Headway without the kitchen. Just as lunch is such an important moment of the day, when members sit down together to catch up over a meal, the kitchen is right at the heart of Headway: a vibrant place, full of talk and music, where everyone is welcome and where every day we produce something together that feeds us all.

Anne-Lise, member Jon's mum (started in 2010)

We think Headway’s great, it’s been wonderful for Jon. By the time he started in 2010 he’d been in and out of hospitals and rehab and one of the proposals when he left residential care was that he would go to Headway East London. His brother and I came down one Wednesday and saw the boys talking football and we thought “this is it”. It felt right for Jon. A few years later when he was asked if he wanted two days his face lit up.

I don’t know what changes in him I can attribute to Headway, but it’s more about the being involved. And his artwork is phenomenal. What he does in the studio with staff members Connie and Michelle is phenomenal. He’s even sold some of his work; I bought a piece from him a few years back and he can still remember how much I paid for it, so I can see he’s proud of it. And being involved in music too – he’s done a lot of things there.

I think what Headway’s allowed Jon to do is have his own space. He’s treated like a person, someone who’s capable.

Decadeinreview Jon
Decadeinreview Pauline
Pauline, Day Service member (started 2009)

I first came to Headway on a Friday. They invited me cause I used to go to Rehab UK and they’re the people who referred me to Headway. When I came and saw what Headway was like, so much exciting things occupied everyone, that is where my inspiration to come came from. But since 2009 to now, it has changed tremendously.

What I’ve achieved from Headway is actually being able to bring myself. At first it was I just came to the Enfield Social with my husband but after that I've been bringing myself. That for me is the best thing, bringing myself to Headway.

I do music and other things now too, because if anything is going on, I just get my instructions and I follow them. The best thing is getting back into society and being able to help myself.

Sam, Day Service member (started 2010)

I can just about remember it! When I first came I didn't really know anyone so I felt a bit out of place, but I went to the arch and I didn't realise I could do what I do now! I go in the kitchen sometimes, and I do music as well - I take part in that. I didn't use to do this, my voice was a lot deeper then.

I definitely notice a difference in me! I'm more confident now; at art exhibitions I'll get up and talk and not be nervous. I wouldn't be who I am without Headway. I feel very confident and don't care what other people think of me. And everyone's in the same boat, we can all talk about what we go through, and you can't always tell who are members and who are staff. And my family can see I can do more for myself too, than I used to be able to.

Decadeinreview Sam
Decadeinreview Tony
Tony, Chief Executive (started 2002)

What a 10 years it's been! We've seen significant growth in opportunities for our members, including art, food, music, training and writing projects, therapeutic intervention, community support, advocacy and advice work, public engagement, and partnerships with statutory agencies & cultural institutions. All of these developments have been guided by an increasing emphasis on 'co-production', where we actively engage the people who access our services in the development and implementation of our work.

Looking forward to the next 10 years we are seeking solutions, which will allow us to expand and develop our services even further. THANK YOU to everyone who have made the last 10 years such a success; transforming the lives of people affected by brain injury for the better, including our members, clients, campaigners, donors, fundraisers, staff, volunteers and our trustees. Here's to the next decade!

So how can you help see us into the next decade?

Hospital admissions for head injuries continue to rise, as do the number of people we support every year - but we need money to make that happen. There are lots of ways you can give Headway East London a boost in 2020 - why not come to an event? Or make a one-off (or monthly) donation? Or nominate us for your work's Charity of the Year? Or take on a sponsored challenge? Tick one off to help Headway East London support more brain injury survivors than ever before. Thank you!