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Helping People With Brain Injuries In Caithness

14th April 2013

Headway Highland has a branch in Caithness that aims to help local people who have suffered a brain injury.

Headway Highland in Caithness
March 2011 saw the opening of a local support group in the Caithness area as part of Headway Highland. A monthly meeting is held on the last Tuesday of each month at different venues around the Caithness area. The local people to contact are Jackie or Craig on 07765 675954 for more information on the meetings and venues.

The story of Headway began in 1979 when Sir Neville Butterworth placed an advert in a national newspaper seeking holiday accommodation for his brain-injured son. Dinah Minton and her husband Barry, themselves carers, responded and set out with Sir Neville to find any support networks that already existed.

Around the same time, two social workers, Philip Lockhart in Birmingham and Reg Talbott in Nottingham, also contacted Sir Neville. The five agreed to call a meeting for all those involved in the care of brain-injured people. A total of 23 carers and professionals attended a meeting on October 23rd 1979 and Headway was born.

Headway (National Head Injuries Association) was registered as a charity in March 1980 and a Management Committee was formed the following year. At the first AGM in December 1981, there were 22 local groups present. Demand for support from Headway and the formation of new groups was intense. The 1970s had seen dramatic advances in neurosurgery, keeping alive people who would previously have died from their serious head injuries. Sadly, these advances were not matched by parallel funding of expert rehabilitation and community-based care services, with the result that head-injured people were being discharged into the care of unprepared families or despatched to totally inappropriate institutions.

The first Headway House was opened in Gloucester in 1983, providing a day-centre to assist in long-term rehabilitation, respite care and hospital liaison. This was so successful that other Headway Houses were soon started in Basingstoke, Colchester, Reading and Bristol, with many more to follow.

In 1985, Headway moved to new premises in Nottingham and Reg Talbott was appointed its first Director. The Hillsborough disaster in 1989 spotlighted the chronic shortage of expertise and resources in the field of brain injury and was pivotal in bringing the issues to ministerial attention, following strong representation from Headway. In the same year, the charity was incorporated into a limited company and in 1990, following the recommendation of management consultants, the first Executive Director was appointed.
The charity's status was greatly assisted in April 1991, when HRH Diana, Princess of Wales, consented to become Royal Patron, a position which she continued to occupy until 1996. During this period, the Princess took a very real interest in the charity's work and attended a number of Headway functions resulting in extensive media coverage and a much enhanced national profile. She announced her decision to withdraw from most of her public duties at the Headway Christmas Lunch in 1993 but remained a Patron for the next three years.

In 1994, the first Brain Injury Resource Worker was appointed to work in the Scottish Borders region and the initiative was so successful that a policy of greater regional support was adopted by the Board. In 1997, the charity's groups were divided into charities in their own right (Groups) and smaller local organisations (Branches) operating under the national charity umbrella. Typically, the Branches focus on self-help and rely on volunteers while the Groups employ staff to provide a range of services, often including Headway Houses and Centres. In 1998, the AGM was attended by 96 Groups and Branches representing 56 Headway Centres.

A new logo was adopted in 1999 and the charity's remit was extended to include support for people suffering from other forms of acquired brain injury such as encephalitis or meningitis. The first year of the new millennium coincided with Headway's 21st Anniversary, marked by a celebration at Westminster Abbey and the adoption of a new branch constitution.

In 2001, Headway was instrumental in the re-formation of the All Party Group for Acquired Brain Injury and the same year made a major contribution to the House of Commons Health Select Committee Inquiry into head injury rehabilitation. The resulting report led in due course to the publication of the National Service Framework for Long-term Conditions.

The charity's name was changed in the same year to "Headway - the brain injury association". The national Helpline was formally launched in 2003 and the first Headway Charity Shop was opened in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. In the following year the charity celebrated its Jubilee with events around the country and a spectacular Awards Luncheon at the Dorchester.

Two key new appointments took place in January 2005. Headway's first Standards Manager was appointed to develop and assist with the introduction of comprehensive service standards across the organisation. A Training Manager was appointed to provide courses for staff, volunteers and health and social care professionals. In March, the long awaited National Service Framework for Long-term (neurological) Conditions was published, providing a strategy and a blueprint for the development of services for brain injury survivors over the next 10 years, and the publication of a Code of Conduct for Personal Injury Solicitors was widely welcomed.

The national web site can be found at



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