By Paul Spence, official ambassador for Hudgell Solicitors and founder of the PAUL For Brain Recovery Centre
We’re almost there.
I will be hosting an official opening of the PAUL For Brain Recovery Centre to invited guests on Friday, April 15, before a first public opening on Saturday, April 16, from 12-3pm.
It will mark both the end of one very significant journey for me, but also the start of another new chapter, as I can now start to really make a positive difference.
I hope people who suffer brain and head injuries and wonder what the future holds for them are able to look at me as an example of how despite life changing beyond recognition, it can still be a positive experience and you can still achieve and succeed.
I hope the road which has taken me to where I am today can act as an inspiration to others who find themselves where I was in 2012, because back then, having suffered a brain haemorrhage, I didn’t think there was anything to be positive about.
Hopefully the new centre, and the story behind its creation, can be a symbol of hope.
Brain injury and the challenge of recovering in community
This new community support centre has come about because I experienced first-hand how difficult it is to adapt to life after a brain injury.
You find your biggest challenge is only just starting if you are fortunate enough to come out of hospital and find yourself back into day-to-day life.
A new and completely different life is in front of you, and finding it in yourself to accept your old life is gone forever can be incredibly tough.
I know that 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.
Nothing could prepare me or my family for the battle of brain recovery and the difficulties it brought. They were brilliant and did their best for me, but it was a complete change for us all, and a struggle.
As a result of my experiences, and those of others I have come to know over recent years, we’ve really tried to focus the new centre on providing the kind of support which we felt was lacking in communities for people when they leave hospital and start trying to rebuild their lives, and also for their families and loved ones, who want to support them as best they can.
It fits perfectly alongside my role as an ambassador for Hudgell Solicitors, in which I help their brain injury clients with one-to-one mentoring and support, alongside the legal advice they receive.
Positivity, Awareness, Understanding and Love.
Family support will be a key service element of my new centre, which will offer guidance and support through inspirational and motivational talks and educational sessions on topics from coping strategies to healthy nutrition, fitness, recovery and well-being.
Associates of the PAUL charity, including leading brain injury specialists, will also provide support.
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.
Most importantly, I know it will be a place of Positivity, Awareness, Understanding and Love.
That is what the charity name of PAUL stands for, and that’s what we’ll aim to deliver to those rebuilding their lives, at all times.
Proud of the achievement and thankful for support
When I stand and officially open the centre next week, I will be incredibly proud of what I have achieved and how I have pushed myself to do new things after a brain injury.
It has been a long hard road to get from the initial idea to gaining full charity status, and then actually opening the centre itself, but I will have done it.
I have to thank the many people who have supported my fundraising physical challenges and community events held over the past 18 months, and of course both Hudgell Solicitors, and the NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who have provided invaluable support to my charity and in securing premises at the Wilberforce Health Centre, in Story Street, Hull, for the first 12 months
The PAUL For Brain Recovery Centre will be open as a drop-in centre from Tuesday, April 19, at 9am and will initially be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am-5pm, and Wednesday evenings from 4pm-8pm.