New brain injury centre will prove invaluable

October 19, 2015

A new brain injury centre of excellence, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, will offer invaluable respite and support services to its patrons, those behind the project have said.

At the centre, located outside the village of Camlough, dignitaries and invited guests joined survivors and their carers on Thursday for the official opening ceremony.

The £350,000 unit – named ‘Our House’ by one of its patrons – is run entirely by brain injury survivors and their families.

Chairman of the Brain Injury Foundation and one of project founders, Frank Dolaghan, whose son Tony suffered a brain injury when he fell from a cliff in Co Donegal more than 20 years ago, said it could transform lives.

“If you care for someone with a brain injury it can be very stressful and isolating.  And, the biggest problem for brain injury survivors is also social isolation – they are just sitting at home playing games or watching television.  We are changing that,” he said.

The new unit provides a permanent space where brain injury survivors can socialise and develop communication skills – enhancing their confidence and aiding reintegration with the community.

“The centre, named ‘Our House’ by one of our brain injury survivors, is intended to be just that – a place which is welcoming and inclusive, open, homely and comfortable.  It is full of warmth and positivity. It is a base from which our members can build and maintain linkages with our local community,” Mr Dolaghan continued.

“Above all, it is owned and controlled by our members. We are indebted to the Space and Place team, to our builders and our professional advisers and all our other supporters for helping so much to bring us to this very exciting stage in our development.

“We have even more dynamic plans for the future and look forward to everyone’s continuing support,” he added.

The centre was built with a grant from the National Lottery Space & Place programme.

Frank Hewitt, the Big Lottery Fund’s Northern Ireland chairman, said: “It’s wonderful to see how the Brain Injury Foundation have transformed this building with funding from the Space and Place programme.  We are looking forward to seeing the difference the new centre will make to people affected by brain injury and their families.”

Space & Place Programme Coordinator Michael Hughes praised the efforts of the Brain Injury Foundation: “The Space & Place programme is here to help connect communities together and the Brain Injury Foundation are doing that by helping those with brain injuries, and their families and carers, to integrate into the wider community.

“The Brain Injury Foundation has worked tirelessly to complete this work and we can’t congratulate them enough on their efforts,” he said.