Hudgell Solicitors’ ambassador Paul Spence is to achieve his goal of providing the first community-based support service for those with brain injuries in East Yorkshire, with premises secured for a new drop-in centre to open in Hull in 2016.
Paul, 35, was left facing a battle to survive when suffering a brain haemorrhage three years ago, as he had been the victim of a violent, unprovoked attack. His injury was caused after falling backwards and hitting his head on a ceramic floor.
He has since made a remarkable recovery – raising more than £50,000 for his charity by organising many community events and completing a series of marathons across England, Europe and America.
Of that money, he has donated £25,000 to the Neurosurgical Ward at Hull Royal Infirmary, which nursed him through the critical stages.
However, Paul’s ultimate goal has always been to provide community-based support to those recovering and attempting to rediscover their place back in society, amongst their families, and at work, as it was this area that he found support lacking.
That has now been made possible, thanks to funds raised for his charity, Paul For Brain Recovery over the past 18 months, and support from both Hudgell Solicitors and NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who have provided premises at the Wilberforce Health Centre, in Story Street, Hull, for the first 12 months.
It means drop-in support sessions will be available in the city from early next year, and Paul is delighted to have achieved his ultimate goal so quickly.
“I am absolutely overwhelmed with the support I have received which has made this dream of mine become a reality,” Paul said.
“From all of the people who have supported my events and donated funds, to Hudgell Solicitors who have now taken me on as their ambassador to support people with brain injuries, and Hull CCG for providing superb premises at the Health Centre, I really do now feel Paul For Brain Recovery is ready to start making a real difference to peoples’ lives.
“When I was walking that long hard road to recovery, it was the day to day difficulties which I struggled with. I know how I would have valued having the option of being able to go somewhere where I could speak to someone who had been there and walked the path before.
“I needed people who understood the struggles and frustrations, and would able to put some positive perspective on the situation for me.”
Figures show that there were more than 3,000 patients seen at hospitals in East Yorkshire in the two years from start of 2013 with acute or traumatic brain injuries.
In the year to May 2015, 609 patients had been treated for brain injuries, and Paul says these are figures which reflect the need for better community-based support.
“For every patient that has a brain injury, you may as well multiply that number by five in terms of how many people it affects within the community,” he said,
“It’s never only about the impact on the individual. I know my injury affected my relationship with my loved ones, as they struggled in terms of how they should have been supporting me. They were brilliant and did their best for me, but it was a complete change for us all, and a struggle. I always say I was at the centre of a ripple which went out, impacting on the lives of others.
“Once you leave hospital you can find your biggest challenge is only just starting, and that is adapting to your new life and finding it in yourself to accept your old life is gone forever.
“Quite simply, nothing could prepare me or my family for the battle of brain recovery. Hopefully, by being there at the centre and providing support services, and through my work with Hudgell Solicitors, those who suffer a brain injury in Hull and East Yorkshire will have a much better network of positivity, awareness, understanding and love.”
Emma Latimer, Chief Officer, NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group, said “Paul is such an inspiring person for many people in Hull. He has turned his life around after suffering a brain injury and has then gone on to put so much into helping the community in different ways.
“Paul’s plans for a drop-in centre in the Wilberforce Health Centre will provide practical advice and support to help others through the long process of recovery from head or brain injury.
“We hope that the drop-in centre will be able to help many people and their families through this difficult time, and we’re pleased to provide accommodation for 12 months to get the new project off to a great start”
Neil Hudgell, managing director of Hudgell Solicitors, said: “This is a significant step for Paul and his charity, and he deserves great credit for all he has achieved.
“We are delighted to have him as an ambassador for our company, as he really is inspirational and he is already helping others.
“We’ll be supporting Paul to make sure the centre does what Paul has set out to achieve, and becomes a truly valuable resource and support network for those recovering from brain injuries across the region.”
What the new centre will provide
The Paul For Brain Recovery centre will provide ‘Positivity, Awareness, Understanding and Love’ for those with brain injuries.
Initially, it will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am-5pm, and Wednesday evenings from 4pm-8pm.
It will offer guidance and support through inspirational talks on topics from coping strategies to healthy nutrition, recovery, motivation and well-being.
Associates of the charity, including leading brain injury specialists, will also provide support at the centre, whilst visitors will also be able to take part in a number of specifically designed physical and mental activities to help stimulate and progress their minds and memories.
All regular visitors will see their progress tracked each month to highlight steps forward in their recovery portfolio.
Paul said: “The centre is going to be a hub for support, and thanks to the many supporters and associates we now have, whatever the need of the patient, whether it be psychological support or physiotherapy or family support, we’ll have the resource and contacts to put them in touch with the right people.”
An opening date will be confirmed in early 2016.