A BRAIN injury charity that has accompanied hundreds of people in Swindon on their path to recovery is appealing for help to find larger premises adapted to its users’ complex and diverse needs.

Headway Swindon and District will need to leave its current base in Upper Stratton when its lease ends next year as the area is earmarked for redevelopment.

This will herald the beginning of a much-needed but costly expansion process to welcome new users and offer facilities fitted with disabled access, able to provide various activity rooms and a specially designed kitchen to allow them to familiarise themselves once more with daily tasks such as cooking.

The centre uses Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy to allow people who suffered head trauma or injury to relearn skills – such as their ability to speak, read or write and use their short-term memory – that have been affected as a result of damage to the brain.

Around 70 people attend speech sessions, reading groups and cooking workshops, among other activities, and regain essential skills thanks to specialist computer software and exercises.

The service costs £250,000 per year to run and staff receive grants from Swindon Council and funding from social services, which pays for the treatment of certain users. The charity must raise money for other activities and will need all the financial support it can get when it eventually relocates.

Anna Cole, chairman of Headway trustees, said: “Once we find a building, we will need to build extra facilities for our clients and ideally we would need new toilets, a kitchen to offer things like cookery classes and also a separate room like a quiet room.

“We also need more facilities for life skills training. We are always looking at new things we can to enhance and improve what we offer.”

The charity’s nine employees also support clients with mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.

Centre manager Jane Weston said: “There is a big demand for our support from people with brain injuries and we want more people to benefit from the service.

“We are not a drop-in centre. We are a rehabilitation centre and every client has their own individual learning, which we review every six months with them and their family.

“At the moment we are having to tell people we can’t help because we don’t have the facilities to accommodate them and cope with their needs.”

Barry Carter, 52, of Toothill, suffered a stroke four years ago. As a result he forgot how to read, write and for a time had difficulty speaking. Over the past three-and-a-half years he has been focusing on learning how to read again, although he knows his memory will never be as it was.

“Basically the stroke took half of my brain,” said Barry, who had to stop his job in car body work.

“I couldn’t read but I can a bit now. I used to be a bit of a cook but I couldn’t remember how. I’m still struggling but I am getting there.

“It was very difficult to start with but Headway has helped me a lot and I’ve gained a lot since I’ve been here. I would not be able to read or write and I am noticing a difference in myself. I feel more comfortable in my own skin.”

Although affiliated with Headway UK, Headway Swindon & District is its own legal entity and therefore must raise its own funds independently of the wider charity.

To make a donation to Headway Swindon & District call 01793 617109, email info@headwayswindon.org.uk or visit www.headwayswindon.org.uk