Headway Swindon (formerly known as Headway Swindon & District) was formed by Sylvia and David Woodgate in 1991 after two years of running a self-help group at the Clapham Unit in Gorse Hill. Their son Simon was involved in a road traffic accident in which he sustained multiple injuries and a severe brain injury. It soon became apparent to Sylvia and David that there was no suitable service for Simon to attend, and they quickly learned that other traumatic brain injury survivors living in the local community were in the same situation.
As chairman of Headway Swindon Sylvia spent many hours in meetings with Swindon Health Authority championing the cause of people with brain injury in Swindon and the surrounding areas but never losing sight of her main objective, to obtain suitable premises in which to run a day centre for the care and rehabilitation for the brain injured and respite for both families and carers.
1991 – Victoria Hospital
Late summer of 1991 Swindon Health Authority gave us use of a large room with office space and toilet at Victoria Hospital. At first Headway House opened two days per week, taking in its first clients in January 1992. Headway Swindon established a solid team of Trustees and people who were prepared to give something back to the community. They worked tirelessly behind the scenes, none more so than the late Alex Young Who was treasurer 1989-2005. Sylvia was coordinator of the centre until her retirement in 2001, and continued to support organisation as a trustee until October 2008.
2007 – Headlands Trading Estate
Headway Swindon steadily grew, and in 2007, moved from the Victoria Hospital to much larger premises at Headlands Trading Estate. The opening hours increased from 3 to 5 days per week to meet the demand for the service. At Headlands we established key links with Health Professionals to raise the awareness of our service. We saw our numbers grow from 23 clients to 67, with people prepared to travel longer distances to access the service. In 2014, we introduced fundraising events which have gone from strength to strength, and has enabled us to offer more activities in centre. Our cognitive rehabilitation therapy programme continued to develop at Headlands with the introduction of client personal goal setting, speech and language sessions and more computer based brain training sessions.
2015 – Avocet House, Dorcan
With the increase in client numbers it was clear to see that Headway Swindon again needed to start searching for bigger premises. Our new home in Dorcan is almost twice the size of Headlands, which has enabled us to handle an influx of clients, growing from 67 clients to 89 within 1 year. We’re always looking to offer more activities to our clients to help aid their recovery and our new home in Dorcan has allowed us to do this. Our clients have now started cookery classes in our new life skills kitchen (pictured left), pottery, yoga, singing and we will be introducing gardening sessions in the summer of 2017.
We’re continuously developing our Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy programme at Headway Swindon we’re committed to helping each and every client reach their full potential so that they can live as independent lives as possible. Headway Swindon is continuing to raising public and professional awareness of acquired brain injury and the needs of people with brain injuries, their families and their carer’s.