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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Cedar Foundation celebrates Action for Brain Injury week at event in Ballymena

Elaine Armstrong CEO Cedar, Headway NI, Northern Community Brain Injury Team and NHSCT representatives

Elaine Armstrong CEO Cedar, Headway NI, Northern Community Brain Injury Team and NHSCT representatives


This year the theme for the week is ‘A Life Re-written’. The campaign explores identity after brain injury and tells the stories of brain injury survivors who have successfully rebuilt their lives.


Staff and brain injury Service Users from the Cedar Foundation (Cedar) regional services came together for a series of Action for Brain Injury Events at various locations across Northern Ireland, including Foyle, Ballymena, Belfast and Newry.



On Thursday 23rd May 2024 an event was held at Cedar Ballymena, located at Woodside Industrial Estate, Ballymena.


The event was attended by people living with brain injury, their families, Cedar staff, User Forum representative, HeadwayNI, Northern Community Brain Injury Team and representatives from the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.



Service Users shared their experiences of their journey after acquiring a brain injury and what life looks like for them now – with a focus on how their lives have been re-written.


Current participant, Jamie compered the event and introduced each of the speakers. He also talked about his brain injury journey so far. He said that having a brain injury can be very lonely and by coming to Cedar, you are along with people who understand. He enjoys the social aspect of Cedar, meeting and talking to other people who have brain injuries and similar experiences.  He discussed the groups that he was currently taking part in and what he gets out of these.


Elaine Armstrong CEO and Paul, Jamie, Catherine, and James Ania - speakers at the event.

Elaine Armstrong CEO and Paul, Jamie, Catherine, and James Ania - speakers at the event.


James Spence (Service User with Inclusion Works) wrote a piece about his brain injury journey and what he has achieved since receiving support from Cedar.


“Where I am at now is brilliant as Cedar was able to help me to adapt my bricklaying skills to take up a maintenance role. I am so pleased to use my skill set in action.


“My journey after brain injury hasn’t been smooth sailing but through my work at Cedar, I have started to see myself getting brighter and more positive towards life again”.



Catherine a current Service User with Inclusion Works talked about her life re-written and how she is still re-writing it with the support that she is receiving currently through the Inclusion works programme.  


Catherine was thankful for the support of Cedar, and said without Cedar she wouldn’t be doing the things that she is doing today; she is in part-time employment and is studying law at Queen’s University Belfast.


James, a previous Service User talked about how his life had changed and how Cedar had supported him along the way. He said:


“Cedar helps you find direction,” and he is thankful for the support that he received from staff, stating that that the staff really care about you.



Paul, another previous Service User gave some advice to current service users or those thinking about coming on Cedar programmes.

 

“I benefited from attending Cedar and speaking to other service users who had the same problem. Cedar was the best thing that happened to me, before Cedar I didn’t know which way to turn, where to go and what to do.


“Take all the help you can get, when you say that you have an interest, staff in Cedar will go out of their way to help. When you learn strategies, it takes time to get used to using them, but stick at it because once you get used to using those thingswill be a lot easier.”  

Ania joined a photography club with the help of Cedar and highlighted some of the amazing photos that she has taken through the club.

 



Elaine Armstrong, CEO at Cedar said, “We were inspired by the powerful personal stories from people Cedar has supported to re-write their lives following brain injury.”

 

An Information Hub was also set up, staffed by Cedar for service users and attendee referral agents to see what services Cedar has to offer. The event concluded with a light lunch and networking.

 

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