ABI Week 2021 - Members' Manifesto for the Future

We're reflecting on the last 12 months: acknowledging what was hard but also looking at the things we'd like to keep as the world starts to open up again.... step forward our "Members' Manifesto for the Future" 🗣️

When planning our content for Action for Brain Injury Week (17 - 23 May 2021), it was impossible to ignore the impact of the last year on all of our lives.

For many it's been incredibly difficult; bringing unwelcome change along with feelings of isolation and sadness. However there have also been glimmers of hope: neighbours connecting with one another, society embracing a slower pace and more people engaging with pressing issues. For some of our members this presented an opportunity to look at things a little differently: using these shared experiences to help people better understand the challenges faced by brain injury survivors and imagine a society that can better support them.

Over the last month some of our community have met to discuss which aspects of the last year they would like to STAY as we emerge out of lockdown. Together they agreed on five main priorities which today we are sharing as our "MANIFESTO FOR THE FUTURE". We're calling on our supporters to (virtually) sign their support, and take some of these principles forward into their own lives where they can. Download a copy here

Every day on social media we'll be digging into one of the five points on the manifesto: exploring why this is important to brain injury survivors, and what Headway East London does to support this ⚠️ You can ensure this work continues by donating to our Spring fundraising campaign "Make It Happen" here ⚠️

Lockdown Lesson 1: SLOW DOWNHourglass with flowing sand

Lots of our members struggle with a fast-paced lifestyle due to fatigue. Over the last year of lockdowns, we all embraced a slower pace. As the world opens up again, take a beat to think about others as you rush through your day.

At Headway East London, we run yoga and relaxation groups for our members to unwind and take it easy. We also have a dedicated communication groups for those who need space, time and support to participate. In the last year we've also seen lots of people enjoy embroidery in the art studio - practising patience and quiet concentration.


“I think people were used to being busy. They naturally go at a fast pace, whereas things pre-lockdown were much slower for me, and maybe for other people with brain injury as well. I felt I was standing still and there was a whirlwind around me” - Firoza, member

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Lockdown Lesson 2: INNOVATE 💥

So many people have had to adapt to new ways of living and working in this last year, and have done so with great creativity. Let's keep thinking up and trying new things to ensure that society is more accessible to everyone.

During the pandemic we moved all of our dance, art & music groups online, but we also produced 7 issues of our lockdown publication The Headway Hello for those without access to our online Zooms and emails. Pairing this with postcards, and workshop parcels we tried to adapt our services to meet every one of our members' needs. Listen to our virtual choir singing down the phone here and read a Headway Hello here.

"The way the art Zoom engages everyone whatever their disability from brain injury and encourages them to draw and share their drawings has been particularly important for me" - Chris, member

Lockdown Lesson 3: PRIORITISE 📝

We've seen great changes at a national level for certain issues resulting from the pandemic. Let's ensure the needs of people with brain injury & hidden disabilities are considered & addressed.

Our team works hard supporting members to make their voices heard, whilst also pushing for change at the highest levels. In the past few years our Casework team have been to parliament to speak at all All-Parliamentary Group on brain injury; they've also created caselaw the tribunal network for benefits appeals (for adults with acquired brain injury).

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"Society is not geared for people with disabilities, especially disability like brain injury where we look completely 100% fine" - Rosy, Community Support Work member

Yoki At A Distance
Lockdown Lesson 4: ENGAGE 🤝

We've seen more people getting involved with different local communities and campaigning for global political issues. Let's look out for our neighbours and keep engaging with important national and global issues.

Last summer during lockdown our team continued to make vital doorstop visits and deliveries to members in need. We also tried to raise awareness of brain injury through online campaigns and articles with our membership.

"On the first day of lockdown I had six neighbours knock on my door to check how I was. It was quite amazing really" - Headway volunteer

Lockdown Lesson 5: COLLABORATE 💛

Teamwork has definitely been a big part of getting through the last year - we work better together. Let's keep looking for opportunities to find like-minded people and organisations to get things done.

Over the last year at Headway we've reached out and worked with so many amazing organisations. We've run dance and art workshops with the Barbican, we've had amazing movement and music groups with Bittersuite and Nordoff Robbins, and even tried out magic with Breathe Arts!


"It's not every day we get to dance together on the Barbican Theatre stage! Many of the themes Michael Clark explores really resonated with us so this collaboration felt very exciting."