ABI Week 2024 – A Life Re-written

By Elisa
Posted: 21/05/2024

It’s Action for Brain Injury (ABI) Week and we are joining Headway UK in this year’s campaign called “A Life Re-Written“, raising awareness of how brain injury can affect anyone at any time, disrupting plans, changing life goals and altering our sense of self.

This ABI Week you can learn about stories of life after brain injury from the members of our community.

The stories have been collected and shared as part of our differently various in different spaces touring exhibition, which brings artwork made by people living with brain injury to local community centres across our 13-borough catchment area.

The exhibition is now open at Shoreditch Library and, from 1 June, it will be at Westminster City Hall.

Firoza

“Since the brain injury, I have learned about life: how hard it is, how things can chance. One minute you are going about your business, and then everything is different. But I’ve learned how to survive.”

Firoza

Firoza Choudhury is a Newham resident, and has been a member of Headway East London since 2008. She was working in publishing when she had a stroke in 2007 when an arteriovenous malformation (tangle of blood vessels) ruptured in her brain.

Since Firoza joined Headway East London, she has become an artist at Submit to Love, written articles, created films, and presented on Threads Radio. Part of the Steering Group that co-produced differently various, she recently joined the staff team as a Peer Researcher.

Firoza is keen to share her experience of brain injury with a focus on invisible disabilities. She has been interviewed by The Guardian and BBC about the role of creativity in her recovery, and the impact of brain injury on everyday life and relationships.

“I’m always in awe of my fellow brain injury survivors, their sheer strength and achievements, honesty and openness. Not to mention our laughs around the table at lunch. We listen, learn and share.”

Tony

“Tony is a survivor who has overcome loss in so many aspects of his life, but continues to strive to grow and remain independent.”

David McMurray, Tony’s Carer

Tony Brooks is a Camden resident,and has been a member of Headway East London since 1998. Tony was in a road traffic accident at age 14 that left him wheelchair bound, with limited speech and chronic health issues. At the time there was little support in the community for people with brain injury. 

Well known in NW8, Tony is often stopped by neighbours for a chat and loves having a laugh. Few of them know that he is also an accomplished artist at Submit to Love.

Through his art Tony has discovered a sense of purpose, and is seen by others in a new light.


“Tony is a storyteller. His drawings are an expression of his humour, pain and emotions, bringing an honest voice to life with a disability.”

Michelle Carlile, Submit to Love

Headway_1439

Tony’s art has been exhibited at Southbank Centre, Autograph Gallery, and was a highlight of differently various.

Portrait of Tony, a short film by Zara Joan Miller offering a window into Tony’s world – from the challenges of disability to his fascination with horses, was released in 2022. Keep an eye on this space for future screenings!

Dolores

“Headway helped me to get my confidence back. I’d never been so ill and I couldn’t believe it. Even now, it feels like it happened to someone else. But I’m glad I’m here. Everyone here is like family to me.”

Dolores

Dolores Crump is a Hackney resident, and has been a member of Headway East London since 2007. She worked as a nurse from the 1960s until 1994. After retiring she started experiencing seizures, and was diagnosed with multiple brain tumours: They told me the tumours were like oranges in Seville.

At Headway, Dolores was encouraged to try painting in the Submit to Love studio. Her brain tumours cause impaired vision; but this doesn’t stop her creating large-scale paintings using just her hands.

“I did my first paintings, and people actually liked and bought them. I was shocked. Now every time I sell one, I use some of the money to buy presents for the children.”

Dolores set up a charity book club for mothers and children at her church, which she continues to support since her brain injury.

“I know how important reading is, even if you don’t understand everything, it gives you ideas and you develop them over time. I like to help children because they’re the future.”

Jen

When you have a brain injury, you lose your self-identity. You have to rebuild your life from scratch and you’re very aware that you’re different.
Jen Chandler

Jen was involved in a car accident over 20 years ago, just after she finished college. She moved from Middlesex to London, where she could live and work independently.

As a member of Headway East London from Westminster since 2018, Jen attends their monthly Saturday Socials and supper club events, ‘Headway Eats’:

I lost all my friends after the brain injury. My life was all work and making new friendships felt impossible. Headway helped me feel included.

Jen is part of the Steering Group archiving 25 years of history and producing a film about Headway East London, alongside the differently various in different spaces touring exhibition.

She also helped organise Headway East London’s first brain injury conference in 2023: ‘Finally, with the help of Headway, we are getting our voices heard.’

Jen would like for these opportunities to be available for more people living with brain injury:

At Headway I can see how, if we are given the understanding and support we need, we can create amazing things. People should have these opportunities in every borough.”

Checkout other blog posts!

Posted: 16/04/2024

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