Brain Injury Matters is one the five groups we’re announcing funding to today under our Reaching Out: Supporting Families programme. The group received £700,000 to work with Belfast Health & Social Care Trust on the five-year Family First project. It will support children under 12 with acquired brain injury and their families across Northern Ireland. We talked to one mum who said the new project will offer vital support to families like hers.
Anita Gulbe’s daughter Sara had to learn to do everything again after she suffered a brain tumour at the age of 9.
Anita said: “Sara had been a very good student – first in her class in Maths. She lost all of that. She went back to school but it was hard for her because she was different. She was targeted by bullies.”
Anita, her husband Atvars and their other five children rallied around Sara. But Anita admitted it has been hard for them.
“Emotionally she’s affected – she sometimes cries very easily. It affected the family very much. They tried to be happy but they felt lost. They didn’t know how to react to Sara.”
Ten years on, Sara has ongoing problems involving her memory as well as sight and hearing loss.
Since the family moved from Latvia to Dungannon five years ago, Sara has received support through Brain Injury Matters’ Younger Person’s Network programme, which is also funded by the Big Lottery Fund. Anita said it has made all the difference to Sara. She is now studying travel and tourism at South West Regional College in Omagh and is also a budding artist.
“She meets other people like her who have been affected by brain injury. That has made her more confident because she is not the only one who is different,” she said.
“They teach Sara how to live with things like memory loss – techniques like making notes. She is more independent. It’s made a really big difference – we are at peace that she will be OK.
Anita added: “This new Family First project is great because it will help families with younger children. There was nothing like that for us when Sara became ill in Latvia. It will help keep families strong.”
Brain Injury Matters Family First project is one of five projects awarded funding totalling £3,387,105 million today under the Reaching Out Supporting Families programme
The Cedar Foundation has been awarded £603,704 for the five-year Building Resilience Together project. It will support children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and their families in Fermanagh, Derry/Londonderry and Omagh by making them better connected to their communities.
Dyslexia & Dyspraxia Support (D.A.D.S.) were awarded £700,000 for their Empower project will offer children with a learning disability and their families support, information and activities to increase their confidence and skills to cope with challenges they may face.
Here NI received £683,762 to provide support to same sex families from across Northern Ireland to break down isolation and help them feel more connected in their local community. They will work with the Rainbow Project to support families across Northern Ireland.
SPACE NI received £699,639 to provide early intervention support to families who are experiencing a range of difficulties and challenges that pose a risk to family stability across the Newry, Mourne and Down council area.