Headway Oxfordshire is one of many Oxfordshire charities and social care services under threat in facing cuts of funding in proposals from Oxfordshire County Council as it bids to save £50m in its budget on top of £292m by 2018 as the council deals with a reduction in funding from central government. About 70% of the charity's funding currently comes from the county council, but its contract with the local authority is due to end next June - at the worse the charity could face staff redundancies or a reduction in the amount of services and ARC activities it currently offers.
Andrew started the e-petition (Save Our Headway: Brain Injured Will Battle Against The Cuts') after learning through the charity's staff that Headway, based in Kennington, is faced with possible closure. His campaign has already generated interest and coverage in the Oxfordshire Guardian, Oxford Mail and Herald newspapers, as well as an interview on BBC Radio Oxford.
The recent £450,000 windfall from the Big Lottery Fund will be spent on Headway Oxfordshire's ABI (acute brain injury) satellite service, which has hubs in Didcot, Bicester, Witney and central Oxford. The satellite service allows community support workers to reach out to people with ABI, who struggle to get transport to its main base in Bagley Wood Road. Despite the £450k it is not enough for Headway Oxfordshire to survive on alone - as it costs around £250,000-£300,000 per year to keep its services going!
Andrew was born with a brain injury and spent his first days fighting for life in the John Radcliffe Hospital's special care baby unit. His injury meant he could not talk until his six years old - and received years of speech and language therapy, as well as special needs schooling for developmental and learning difficulties. At the age of 8, Andrew suffered a further head injury when he was knocked over in the playground at primary school in Oxford - resulting in major surgery at the Radcliffe Infirmary at the age of 12, after years of suffering headaches and a haematoma growth. During the operation, a blood clot formed resulting in complications - but the miraculous surgeons made Andrew pull through. Despite years of treatment for various medical problems and interventions throughout his childhood, the full extent of the brain injury wasn't identified until an MRI scan at the National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery in London picked up the injury.
In 2012 Andrew was referred to the Activity & Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) and attends the centre as part of his rehabilitation every Tuesday.
He receives physiotherapy sessions, as well as taking part in tai chi and yoga as well as other forms of therapies, to rebuild his strength, improve balance, plus cognitive and social skills sessions, and help vocationally, as well as having his confidence built back up which lead to gaining a part-time job at Sainsbury's in Didcot.
Andrew said: "Headway has been a valuable and important part of my rehabilitation for my brain injury. If it wasn't for Headway Oxfordshire, I wouldn't have been able to make such big leaps and bounds in my recovery. Thanks to them many aspects of my life have improved.
"The NHS is limited in its resources - particularly for after care support for those with conditions such as brain injuries. There isn't enough support. Headway is really specialised with a brilliant team who really do reach out and care and support not just for us as individuals but the carers too. They are really welcoming and friendly!"
"If the county council cuts the funding for Headway, it would be a huge, devastating loss. Headway is a lifeline for so many people under its care, and for many socialisation is a huge part of that. Without it many would feel more isolated and lonely - as carers receive support, such as respite with breaks and those without transport would not have access to help because the community outreach programme would not exist."
You can support Andrew and help save Headway Oxfordshire by clicking the link below. Pictured below are recent articles as printed in the local press.
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Oxford Mail: Brain-damaged man petitions to save the Headway branch that helped him