2022 and beyond – four questions for our members and staff

By Elisa
Posted: 19/12/2022

What a year 2022 has been! As we are getting ready for our 25th Birthday next year, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on the year gone by through the eyes of our members, staff, volunteers and trustees.

We know how challenging the year has been for many of our members, but thinking about how our community has been able to bounce back from each challenge, we can’t help but feel hopeful about the future.

We asked one of our members, staff, volunteers and trustees to reflect on what they enjoyed about 2022 and what they would like to celebrate in our upcoming 25th anniversary. Enjoy!

David has been a member of Headway East London since 2015. He is a keen writer and you can often find him in our and Submit to Love studio, writing and reading poems for his fellow artists. Mark recently joined us as a Day Service co-ordinator; he is also a photographer and former nurse. Luca has been volunteering at Headway East London for almost a year, playing in the music group and  providing one-to-one support in the art studio; he is also part of our Barbican partnership Steering Group, and of the “Headway Band”. Sarah is a serious injuries solicitor. She has just stepped back from her role as a Trustee at Headway East London after nine years and remains a big supporter and friend. She is a Partner at Irwin Mitchell, who are sponsoring our 25th Anniversary Gala Dinner.  

What was your best “Headway moment” of the year?

Member David and Community Support Worker Anna on a walk in Haggerston.
David: I love writing, so my best “Headway moments” are when I read out loud a good poem in the art studio! Mark: Finding out that Cecil (member) had literally climbed up an anchor chain in order to leave Guyana and then travelled as a stowaway to the UK. Luca: I have not even been a year in Headway and already there are too many special moments to mention or remember, every time I volunteer, I leave with something enriching and profound. Sarah: My best Headway moment this year has to be Dean (Peer Support Worker) winning the award for his outstanding contribution of the year. I’ve known Dean for many years and to see his amazing dedication and support celebrated in this way was very special and quite emotional for many of us at Headway East London. He is a true legend and his well deserved standing ovation said it all!


Tell us about something that surprised you.

Day Service Co-ordinator Mark supporting member Seth in our day centre.
David: The fact that my poetry has been recognised and celebrated, even if we do not have a specific poetry project like we do for other forms of art. Mark: The willingness of everybody at Headway to facilitate ideas no matter how mad or ridiculous. Luca: The amazing Art that is produced in the Submit to Love art studio, is always so new, unique, professional, truly inspiring and made by people who have to overcome great challenges to express themselves. Sarah: Although I’ve been a Trustee for 9 years, whenever I visit Headway or attend an event I’m always still surprised by the passion and skills that the members learn and share. The talent amongst the members is truly phenomenal from the amazing art to the fabulous food. The spiced lamb shoulder at the recent Winter Feast is definitely one of my favourite meals of the year- well done Jackie (member) and the crew!


Propose a toast to someone you met at Headway.

Volunteer Luca and member Terry working on a clay sculpture in the Submit to Love art studio.
David: I would like to propose a toast to Sam, one of the Music co-ordinators. Music is great and it can really help people with brain injuries, and Sam is really supportive with everyone. Mark: To Katya (Day Service Co-Ordinator) whose boundless enthusiasm is infectious and who has always been encouraging and supportive when I needed it. Luca: It has to be Terry (member and Submit to Love artist), a very special friend of mine, a terrific artist with a great sense of humour and the most powerful energy and willingness to try everything! Sarah: I’d like to propose a toast to Tony Allen and Tirzah Mileham (members and Submit to Love artists) for their wonderful Art is Freedom exhibition at Rich Mix in November. So amazing to hear about their journey into becoming artists and to have their work showcased in this way. Have I also mentioned Jackie’s lamb?! That deserves a toast of it’s own!


Next year is our 25th birthday! What is it about Headway East London that you would like to celebrate?

Peer Support Worker Dean celebrating his Outstanding Contribution to Headway Award. Our Trustee Sarah Griggs joined the emotional ceremony.
David: I would like to celebrate the fact that Headway helps people to get closer to who they want to be. It may be doing the things they are good at or trying new things or things they thought they were unable to do. Mark: The creativity that Headway taps into and the camaraderie amongst members. Luca: I would celebrate the humanity that connects everyone at Headway and goes beyond all barriers. We are all in together to be valued, experience, share, make, live, sing, create and more so much more! Oh and wonderful laughter of course, there is a lot of it in Headway! Sarah: I would like to celebrate just how far Headway East London has come in the last 25 years. From its humble beginnings in a small room at the RNRU (Regional Neurological Rehabilitation Unit, Haggerston) to an amazing dedicated space providing so much support and inspiration to brain injury survivors and their families and carers. It is one of the most special places I have ever visited and I look forward to celebrating the spirit of Headway East London with you all in March!
    Photos by Leon Foggitt.

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