Brain injury: Stories of changed lives

  • 27 May 2015
Scan of Matthew's brain injury

A new blog aims to increase awareness of brain injury and its consequences by telling personal stories.

Charity Headway East London has worked with people who have an acquired brain injury (or ABI) to compile a tell-all blog of frank and open personal accounts of what their lives were like before, and after. The aim is to help ABI survivors rediscover their voices and give them confidence to use them.

Matthew was a software programmer. Six months into his first job he started to get double-vision and numbness in his hands and feet. He went to A&E and was diagnosed with a cyst on his brain which required surgery and removal of part of the cranium. His name has been changed as he wishes to remain anonymous.

"I was born in Birmingham. I think I was four when we left the UK and went back to my family's home country. It's in Africa but for their sake I'm not telling you which.

"I've always been very opinionated, quite bookish, wanting to say what I think even if others might have different opinions, but also quite introverted. I've done lots of study, and lots of church as well - because my parents are Christians.

Read full article Brain injury: Stories of changed lives

Nepal quakes: Treating the spinally injured

  • 26 May 2015
In the grounds of Nepal's Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre

The recent earthquakes in Nepal have left an estimated 400 people with serious spinal cord injuries. Many of them are presently being treated at the country's only spinal injury rehabilitation centre. Stephen Muldoon of the British charity Livability describes the situation on the ground.

On 25 April the first devastating earthquake struck Nepal causing 8,500 deaths, 16,000 injuries and 300,000 homes were destroyed. Nearly three weeks later I witnessed a second quake which caused another 141 fatalities and 3,000 injuries. Another significant statistic is that there have already been more than 173 spinal injuries resulting from the earthquakes. This number is predicted to rise to 400.

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NHS wheelchair reforms are taking too long, say campaigners

  • 18 May 2015
A doctor pushing a wheelchair

Wheelchair users have criticised progress made by NHS England in improving services.

Last year NHS England launched the Wheelchair Services Improvement Programme after acknowledging they were not good enough.

Read full article NHS wheelchair reforms are taking too long, say campaigners

Has The Tribe changed what a deaf film can be?

  • 14 May 2015

A film opening in the UK this week changes perceptions of what a deaf film can be, writes Charlie Swinbourne.

The Tribe is a Ukrainian film, directed by Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, set in a deaf boarding school where everyone communicates in sign language. When a teenager joins the school, he wins acceptance into a network dealing in crime and prostitution. But when he breaks the unwritten rules of the tribe, his future is threatened.

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The dogs who work two jobs for their disabled owners

  • 13 May 2015
Tony with Hetty getting washing out the machine

There are guide dogs, and there are assistance dogs but, to help people who are blind as well as physically disabled, some dogs are trained to be both.

Tony Brown-Griffin from Kent uses her guide dog Hetty to help her get her children to and from school, to attend community events and do other day-to-day tasks. As well as being registered blind she has epilepsy and has, on average, one major seizure every week.

Read full article The dogs who work two jobs for their disabled owners

The struggle to find work when you have Down's syndrome

  • 8 May 2015

Fewer than two in 10 people with learning disabilities are in employment. For people with Down's syndrome, it can leave them demoralised - but are things changing?

"I have a friend with [Down's syndrome] who actually pays someone £40 just so they can do his gardening [for him]," says Kate Brackley.

Read full article The struggle to find work when you have Down's syndrome

The bittersweet world of mental health online

  • 6 May 2015
Kim Kardashian

A new film executive-produced by Kim Kardashian examines social media and mental health, but being a mentally ill person who's active online can be a bittersweet experience, says Charlotte Walker who has bipolar disorder.

Titled #RedFlag, Kim Kardashian's new film highlights how common mental health problems are, and how social media can help. As Kardashian said recently, not everyone has a real life support network and this is where social media can step in to provide a place for people to "express their depression, loneliness, and isolation".

Read full article The bittersweet world of mental health online

People with learning disabilities 'targeted by groomers'

  • 5 May 2015
Generic young woman
Young women with learning disabilities need support so they can keep themselves safe

As police chiefs and disability groups warn people with learning disabilities are at risk of being targeted by groomers, "Sarah" tells her story.

It's a gorgeous warm evening in the South West of England and Sarah - not her real name - has a date. She's wearing a summery skirt and top. She's strikingly pretty.

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'Building a friendship with the man who saved my life'

  • 3 May 2015
Jonny on Waterloo Bridge

Last year I was reunited with the man who stopped me from taking my own life.

It had been six years since I travelled to a bridge in central London with the intention of jumping off.

Read full article 'Building a friendship with the man who saved my life'

Viewpoint: My Twitter battle with the people behind the beach body ad

  • 28 April 2015
Juliette Burton

A protein supplement company has come under fire for its "beach body ready" ad campaign featuring a bikini-clad model. Performer and body image campaigner Juliette Burton is one of those who took issue with it. When she tweeted the company, she was surprised and hurt by the response.

The past few days have been the "maddest" I've had in a long time. And I use that word extremely carefully. I know madness.

Read full article Viewpoint: My Twitter battle with the people behind the beach body ad