Brainbox launched in Berwick
A new support group has been launched in the Berwick area for children and young people '“ and their families '“ with acquired brain injuries and neurological conditions.
It has been created with the help of Brainbox, a North East charity, after a Berwick family highlighted the lack of services in the north of the county for people like them.
Paul and Lizzie Bruin’s 12-year-old son, Lewis, suffered a life-threatening heart attack at their home on Spittal Hall Road, which left him with brain injuries.
“It happened on January 12, 2012,” recalled Lizzie. “He got up feeling fine and went to school where he started getting pains in his chest. We thought it might have been a sickness bug or something but then the next thing we knew it was a major job.
“He required two ambulance paramedic crews to resuscitate him. He had several shocks and was ‘dead’ for 40 minutes. The lack of oxygen to his brain injured his brain.”
Doctors at Wansbeck General Hospital stabilised Lewis’s condition before he was transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary’s specialist intensive care unit and then the Freeman Hospital.
He was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome, a heart condition where an extra electrical connection to the heart causes it to beat abnormally fast for periods of time.
He had an operation to repair the problem and has made a good recovery and is now enjoying life as a pupil at the Grove School in Tweedmouth.
“He’s fine now,” said Lizzie.
“He’s still got a leaky valve (where just after the heart squeezes and pumps blood forward, some blood will leak backward through the valve) but we only have to go and get a check-up every 12 months.”
The family was keen to start a monthly drop-in where others in similar positions could meet over coffee and share experiences, struggles and successes.
Paul and Lizzie, with their friend Steven Oliver, have become Brainbox volunteers, the first in north Northumberland, and have been out and about in Berwick raising funds locally to help set up the group.
They have received notable support from Berwick Bandits Speedway Club and B&M Bargains, while a donation from The Grand Provincial Masonic Lodge of Northumberland helped make it possible.
“We hope it will provide peer support and a social outlet for families living with the daily challenges of their child’s brain injury,” said Lizzie.
Brainbox is committed to offering its services to all who need it, regardless of their location.
Chief executive Julie Cordon said: “The people of Northumberland, especially those living in the north ad the rural areas, can often find themselves isolated and restricted in their access to services and resources.
“With the establishment of this new support group we aim to reduce this isolation and help relieve the stress that families can feel when they have a child with an acquired brain injury by offering the opportunity to meet with other families and benefit from sharing their similar challenges and experiences.”
The group meets on the second Monday of each month from 10am-noon at the Palace Green Pavilion. The next drop-in will be held on Monday, October 9.
Brainbox Transition Coordinator, Alan Scott, will be working with the Berwick volunteers, as part of The Big Lottery-funded Moving On Together Project.
To find out more, ring Brainbox on 07903046290.