Who doesn’t love a good party?
For many of us a party is something we look forward to: an opportunity to meet up with friends, eat, drink, dance and have a good time.
Last Saturday we had a big party with our amazing Headway East London community to celebrate 25 years of supporting people living with brain injury. Our members came from all over East London with family and friends to celebrate.
The party brought together members from across all our services, creating an opportunity to meet people they’d not encountered before and make new friends, talk and share their own experiences. Our members had the opportunity to proudly show their friends and family the place they come each week and experience the magic that is Headway East London, where we embrace the chaos of living with a brain injury and we value every individual in our community.
People chatted together over food and drink, had a sing-a-long as our “Headway band” entertained, and shared experiences over pottery making. There were so many smiles, conversation and laughter and people just having a good time.
Everyone there had experience of brain injury, either first hand or as a family member.
I was struck by the difference I saw in people, the ease of conversation and connection, and the genuine happiness in everyone’s faces. Some I had attended events with elsewhere, including the Houses of Parliament, where they’ve been stressed, overwhelmed and fatigued by the extra effort involved in dealing with people who don’t understand brain injury, often negotiating travel and inaccessible venues.
People told me it was the best afternoon they’d had in ages; that they felt safe and comfortable so they could cope with the noise and chaos of a party because they knew that everyone around them understood brain injury, so they could relax and be themselves without worrying.
At Headway East London our vision is that brain injury survivors experience a world which is accessible to them, and where their contributions are valued and celebrated. And that includes having access to parties and social lives like everyone else. It’s not just about access to personal care or support with benefits, because at the heart of everything we are as people is connection with others.
So, we’ll continue to campaign for the rights of people with brain injury to be included and for the world to be made more accessible to them. And we will continue to make sure we make time to celebrate together, so that our members have a space to socialise in a way that is accessible to them – because the joy I saw on Saturday is not something that should only be available to people once a year.
Headway East London is celebrating 25 years of changing the lives of people living with brain injury this year. We know there are still so many who don’t get to access any specialist support to enable them to better navigate life after brain injury, so we have more work to do. But we hope that in 25 years’ time there will be more to celebrate and life will be more accessible, because a life without fun is something no one should have to face.
Anna McEwen, CEO
27 June 202