Headway Borders has a new focus to help more people locally

Making headway...Rogan Grant, chairman of the Borders charity, is hoping to build strong foundations at the Focus Centre in Galashiels before expanding. (Pic: Alwyn Johnston)
Making headway...Rogan Grant, chairman of the Borders charity, is hoping to build strong foundations at the Focus Centre in Galashiels before expanding. (Pic: Alwyn Johnston)

A charity founded seven years ago in the Borders will open a permanent base in Galashiels next month.

Headway Borders moved to temporary premises in the town last year.

But on Tuesday, August 6, it will hold its first drop-in session at the Focus Centre where it will now be based.

Sessions will be held at the centre on the first and third Tuesday of the month from 10am to 4pm.

But it is hoped this can be expanded to weekly should there be enough demand.

With nearly 400,000 people suffering an acquired brain injury (ABI) each year in the UK – 300 in the Borders alone – the charity’s services are much needed.

Rogan Grant, Headway Borders chairman, knows only too well how an ABI can impact on your life – and that of your loved ones.

Back in 2006, he was working in hospitality and wanted to progress his career. So he moved down to Luton to study for a degree, while working part-time in a bar to fund his studies.

He said: “I had to put a groups of guys out of the bar and they took their revenge – I was left with two skull fractures and a fractured cheek, eye socket and maxillary plate.

“I had the emotional control of a toddler and was unable to control my moods, so I moved back up to Berwick to be with family.”

Rogan still graduated but with a diploma in digital media rather than a degree.

However, his injuries led him down a different path.

He recalled: “My memory was all to hell, I had anger issues and very low mood.

“It was horrendous – the worst depression you could probably get.

“The GP suggested a hypnotherapist. Initially, I thought no way was I doing it but, I was in such a state, a couple of months later I decided to give it a try.

“Within the first two weeks, I was calmer than I had been in years.”

Rogan was intrigued to find out how it worked so in 2012 he trained as a clinical hypnotherapist and is now an NLP master practitioner.

The 48-year-old runs his own business, Positive Inspiration, a natural and holistic health practice for people in the Borders and Edinburgh, where he now lives with his partner Jane and their son Alfie (4).

He offers a number of therapies in which he has since trained to help people, not only with ABI but also insomnia and sleep and pain management techniques.

As a guest speaker, Rogan often shares his story with local groups and regularly attends events staged by Headway UK.

It is a charity he first made contact with while living back in Berwick following his ABI.

He received a lot of support from Headway Borders which, at that time, met in a church hall in Kelso.

So when the group was looking for a new chairman two years ago, Rogan was invited to take the lead and was happy to do so.

He now lends his therapy services to Headway Borders free of charge and it has come a long way under his leadership.

“I started as chairman in February 2017 with the aim of offering a better service to as many people in the Borders as possible,” he said.

“To achieve that, we moved our twice-monthly meetings to Trinity Church Hall in Galashiels as we felt it was more central with better transport links.

“I had to take a step back for a while, due to other commitments but was asked to come back.

“That has tied in nicely with our move to the Focus Centre, which is very, very supportive of our charity.

“Now, we’re looking forward to celebrating that move with our first drop-in session on Tuesday, August 6, from 10am to 4pm.

“We’ll then meet on the first and third Tuesday of every month but are hoping that, in the not too distant future, it will become a weekly drop-in.”

To achieve that, though, Rogan needs help from his fellow health professionals.

“At the moment, it is all being organised by me and the Headway UK area co-ordinator for the east of Scotland, Maria Burnett.

“Ideally, we’d love to have an occupational therapist, two physiotherapists and an activities co-ordinator – people who would be willing to offer their time to help the charity expand.

“It would be fantastic to recruit a volunteer to help us with publicity and someone who is good with computers.

“We really want to grow Headway Borders but we do need help to do that.”

Currently, the group has around 16 members who regularly attend meetings.

But Rogan would also like to see the membership expand as he knows full well there are many more people with ABI who the group has not yet reached.

He said: “Nearly 400,000 people suffer from an ABI each year in the UK, 300 of them in the Borders alone.

“There is a gap in the services available here so we hope to be able to grow to help many more people.

“Eventually, if we can gain funding, we’d like to offer a full-time service that travels around the Borders, offering what we do in Galashiels.

“We want to build up good connections with NHS Borders in future too.

“But for now, we have to build strong foundations in Galashiels and we need more volunteers to help us.”

Headway Borders is part of Headway UK but is completely self-funded and supported.

It aims to provide support and friendship to people who have suffered an ABI, as well as their families and carers.

For often the people’s loved ones are left feeling helpless too.

Rogan added: “If you’re helping people with an acquired brain injury, you need to know how it works.

“People can have the same injury but completely different symptoms – no two are ever the same.

“Our group offers peer support so that people can meet others in the same situation and learn from each other, simply by talking.

“We’re also there to offer advice, support and various therapies to those with an ABI, as well as training courses to help them on the road to recovery.

“And we’re there to support their families and carers as it can be very difficult for them too.”

To find out more, attend the open day at the Focus Centre in Galashiels on August 6 from 10am to 4pm, email headway.borders@gmail.com, call Maria Burnett on 07826 519567 or visit www.headway.org.uk.