Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Helpful Tips to Cope with Feelings of Anxiety

Feeling concerned or overwhelmed by all the news is understandable. You may be anxious about your own health, or someone in your family, or what impact the virus will have on your life. Here are some steps you can take if you are feeling anxious:

Talk to someone about how you’re feeling

Whilst it is normal to feel worried, if you are starting to feel overwhelmed, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and speak to someone you trust, whether that’s a friend, a family member, or a helpline.

Arm yourself with the facts

There is a lot of information about the virus out there and false reports can fuel anxiety. Stay on top of what’s happening by using the Government website https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus, it is the most up-to-date and reliable source of information. The NHS common questions about the virus can also be useful if you are worried about symptoms or family members https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.

You might see stories or posts on social media that makes you feel anxious. It can be very hard to know whether or not social media posts are true, so try not to rely on updates from there. Check the facts on the official websites.

Don’t overexpose yourself to the news

Staying informed can make you feel in control but the constant news reports could also become overwhelming. Try to get your information from reputable websites (like those we’ve mentioned above). If you do want to read or watch the news, try to limit the amount of time you spend and stick to regular intervals in the days. If you are finding it hard not to think about the news, try to plan some activities that you enjoy and which will take your mind of things, whether that’s chatting to a friend, watching a film, listening to music or reading a book.

Take a break from social media if you feel like the updates are getting too much. Remember you are in control of what you see on your feed, take breaks when you do feel like things are getting too much or mute and unfollow accounts that make you feel more worried, or just switch off all together.

Stick to a routine

With so much uncertainty in the news, sticking to a routine can really help maintain a sense of normality. Maintain your routine as much as possible by getting up in the morning and going to bed at the same time. Eating regular meals and staying hydrated will help also, as well as taking breaks throughout the day to talk to someone or do something that you enjoy.  You might want to add extra activities into your day that make you feel calm (see below) but try to keep to your daily schedule as much as possible.

Find things that help you feel calm

Like at any other time, it’s important that you are not only looking after your physical health, but your mental health too. Think about some activities that can help when you are feeling overwhelmed, like breathing techniques, writing down how you feel, playing music or talking to a friend. For some ideas, have a look at how you can make a self-soothe box, or these coping techniques. Often things that distract you will help ease feelings of anxiety, but try to avoid turning to stimulants like cigarettes or alcohol which can leave you feeling worse.

It’s important during this time that you keep acknowledging how you are feeling and do this regularly. We know that things might continue to feel overwhelming or scary. It’s good for you to talk about this where possible.

You may find that you are struggling to cope, think about who you can turn to. It could be a family member or someone you know, who you can share your feelings with.

You can also contact the Headway Essex Support Line. Please email abisupport@headwayessex.org.uk and we will get back to you as soon as possible or if you are in urgent need of support please call 01206 845945 (Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm).

Use NHS 111 online https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/ if you suspect you are experiencing symptoms.

Latest Corona Virus Update from Headway Essex

Along with the rest of the UK, we are anticipating a challenging few months ahead, for the country and our services. We are committed to keeping you up to date on how our services are affected and the measures we are putting in place right now, to support our clients and their families throughout this period.

Temporary Suspension of Day Services and Face to Face Activities

Following government advice, related to the protection of vulnerable communities, it is with a heavy heart that as of Friday 20th March 2020 we have temporarily closed our day centres and suspended face-to-face activities until further notice. We understand that this decision may come as a disappointment to some but the well-being of our clients, volunteers, carers, families and staff will always be our main priority.

Supporting our Headway Essex Community Remains our Primary Focus

What are we doing?

We will be getting creative in the ways we engage directly with individuals who would normally attend our day centres or community groups. We are exploring if we could provide remote sessions using secure technology.

Although our traditional means of working has to change for now, we remain committed to finding new ways of staying connected with you, and helping, so please bear with us while we are working through these changes across our various services.

Keeping in Contact

As we work through our process changes, to contact us, please email abisupport@headwayessex.org.uk and we will get back to you as soon as possible, or if you are in urgent need of support please call 01206 845945.

Please monitor website www.headwayessex.org.uk for regular updates. We will also be putting out lots of information and helpful advice through social media. You can follow us on our social media channels:

Facebook @Headway.Essex, Twitter @HeadwayEssex, or Instagram @HeadwayEssex

We appreciate your continued support and cooperation as we move forward, and we wish you all good health.

Headway Essex Hollywood Ball Team

Headway Essex Guests Relive the Nostalgia of Vintage Hollywood

Guests at our Vintage Hollywood Ball were transported back to a Golden Era of Hollywood. This year’s event took place at the beautiful Stoke-by-Nayland Hotel on Friday 6th March and everyone was given the star treatment, as they arrived on the red carpet.

It was lovely to see so many people at the event who, after being photographed by the ‘paparazzi’, went on to enjoy the sparkling reception.

During a delicious three-course meal, guests were entertained by the beautiful voice of Gemma Nelson, singing some classic jazz numbers. There then followed a very fast-paced auction conducted by Richard Kemsley, where guests bid competitively and very generously, for some amazing auction lots.

Auction lots included, an exquisite Waterford wine decanter, premium level corporate hospitality tickets for a Tottenham home game and a stunning oil painting of the ‘Stour in Bloom’ by emerging artist Olivia English, who had a brain injury in 2015.

The evening concluded with the guests letting their hair down and dancing the night away to the sounds of Frisco Monk, an amazing party band playing disco funk floor-fillers from the 70s and 80s.

We are delighted to say that the event, after expenses, raised over £8,000, which will directly help survivors of brain injury, their families and carers.

Tracy Wellsted, Fundraising Manager, said of the event; “We are thrilled with how the evening went and with how many people came along to support Headway Essex. I would also like to thank all of the volunteers who helped on the day and the wonderful companies that donated prizes to our raffle and auction”.

You can view pictures of the night, thanks to Paul Taylor, on the Headway Essex Facebook page at www.facebook.com/headway.essex. If you would like to purchase a professional print of a photo, please contact Crown Photography on 01206 542706 or email to crownpix@yahoo.co.uk.


In light of the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, our priority is to keep our service users, volunteers and staff safe. As a precautionary measure, we have taken the decision to suspend the services below until further notice, to reduce any risk of infection.

  • All monthly Social and Support Groups

  • Home and hospital visits

We will continue to review this situation as more information about the spread of the virus is known and take appropriate action according to Government and NHS guidelines.

We appreciate this may be disappointing to many people who rely on our services and the importance of peer support and in the absence of these services, we will be providing support over the telephone.

If your contact details have changed recently, please contact us so that we can update your records.

If you need additional help please email abisupport@headwayessex.org.uk and you will be responded to as soon as possible.


Joanna Wright, CEO

Trevor and his wife

With Hard Work and Love, Trevor and Dorothy Prove There can be a Happy Ever After

With Hard Work and Love, Trevor and Dorothy Prove There Can be a Happy Ever After


Trevor had his accident in 1992. On Christmas Eve, he was cleaning windows from a high ladder, overreached and fell. What followed was years of rehabilitation, loss of employment and the breakup of his marriage and family life. He agreed with us to republish this story because he wants to get a very important message across.

Even Though Your Life is Altered, You Can Start to Rebuild What You’ve Lost


“I want to help people who have an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) to know that after an ABI your life is completely altered and sometimes your friends and family are going to disappear. With understanding, effort and support, even though your life is altered, you can start to rebuild what you’ve lost and thought you’d never get back.”

Perseverance and Patience


“I joined Headway Essex in July 1993 after returning from what was a long and painful stay in hospital. They started on me straight away getting me involved in activities such as pottery craft building group therapy sessions and whatever else they thought would have been a help to me, which at the time I thought was of no use what so ever, but eventually made me feel as if progress was being made. Headway Essex helped me along the way to building a worthwhile life again. They had perseverance and patience that was put to the test many times by me.

Initially I thought, “No, this is not for me I am not of this caliber! My life was a lot different before, what are they going to be able to teach me?”

But, they took up the challenge and built me up to be able and willing to take part and become a help rather that a hindrance. My life had taken a turn which was not planned or practiced and at the time after having to come to terms with the fact that I had sustained a head injury found out that there was a place that could help fix a very uncertain life.”

A BBC Documentary was the Turning Point


It was 15 years later, when Trevor watched the BBC documentary ‘Recovery’ starring David Tennant, who played a highflying man knocked down by a van and suffering a severe brain injury. The programme especially demonstrated the pain and devastating effect the accident had on his wife and family.

The next day Trevor rang his ex-wife Dorothy to ask if she had seen the programme. She said she had and asked him what he had thought of it.

“Brilliant” was his reply. Then he said something which was to completely turn his life around, “I am really sorry” he said, “for all I put you and the children through. At last I have realised.” Dorothy sighed with relief and said “I have waited 15 years for you to say that.”

An Enduring Bond Between Them


They started seeing each other again and within 4 months, Trevor and Dorothy had remarried. Although in that time they had both changed, Dorothy had been self-sufficient supporting the family and Trevor had gone back to work and was living in his own flat. However, that enduring bond between them was still there and Trevor admits if they had not watched the programme this turning point in both their lives may never have happened.

Trevor concludes; “This year, 2020 marks the 40th year of us having known each other and we will have been married, this time round, longer than we were the first time.”

Headway Essex is here to help anyone who is struggling with the effects of ABI. If you need help, or would like to know more about our services, please call our helpline on 01206 845945 (option 3) or e-mail abisupport@headwayessex.org.uk.


Maria & Steve’s Remarkable Story

Maria & Steve’s Remarkable Story

Sunday 24th September 2017 was just a normal day for Maria, before she came home after a busy day at work as an events manager. She went to run a bath, leaned forward and was suddenly hit by an excruciating and severe pain in her head. She screamed and her partner Steve came running, she thought she was saying she was okay, but all Steve heard was garbled and slurred speech.

Normally Steve worked away and traveled on a Sunday, but luckily, he was home that day and recognised what was happening and called the emergency services straight away. Maria had suffered a severe brain haemorrhage and the doctors said she probably would not have survived, if he had not been there to make the call.

A 50/50 Survival Rate

Maria was 19 weeks pregnant when incident happened and doctors feared she would have to lose her baby. She was sent to Queens’s hospital where she underwent a life-saving craniotomy but at the time was only given a 50\50 chance of surviving the night.

Amazingly, Maria and her unborn child survived and Maria was placed in an induced coma for a further 2 weeks. She was brought out of the coma the day after her birthday, but has no memory of the first week after waking up from her coma.

Maria spent a further 2 months in the high dependency ward before being moved to the stroke ward at Broomfield hospital. At this point Maria was about 28 weeks pregnant and the doctors were unsure what Maria’s level of recovery would be. Steve regularly told Maria when she was in hospital to stay strong and to keep fighting. She received physiotherapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy in hospital which she continued for 9-12 months after she came home on 23rd November 2017.

Miracles happen with Mountains Still to Climb

Despite everything on 25th January 2018 Maria gave birth to a healthy baby boy, but just when a young couple should be enjoying a magical time, they still faced huge challenges. With Maria’s strength and determination and with Steve’s unwavering support, she had made great progress, but they still had a long road to recovery ahead. Maria still had speech issues and struggled to have a conversation, she had problems walking and limited use of her arm.

In addition, Maria had to wait a year before she could have plastic surgery to replace the missing part of her skull, which was removed in the craniotomy. In the interim, she had to wear protective headwear, which added to feelings of self-consciousness and of not being the same person. She constantly thought “why me” and felt angry about what had happened. With all the changes and challenges, she became withdrawn and was put on antidepressants.

Determination and Teamwork

Steve was signed off work for 1 year to support Maria with the new baby. They worked as a team to ensure Maria made the best possible recovery. Their whole life had to be re-adjusted, but they took on the struggle together.

Despite all the challenges within the six months following her brain injury, they had Matthew and also moved to a new house. Now two years on, they have to remember to look back on how far they have come. Her recovery has been remarkable and defied her surgeon’s expectations.

Maria can now walk unaided, has regained most of the use of her arm and her speech has significantly improved. Maria said “It’s been difficult managing family life, a new born and recovery at the same time. Most people can solely focus on recovery whereas for us there were other things to juggle.”

In October 2019, two years after Maria’s brain injury Maria and Steve got married.

Support from Headway Essex

Making contact with Headway Essex has really helped with Maria’s recovery. Attending some support groups really helped Maria to socialise and realise that she wasn’t alone and she was able to gain great peer support from the group by meeting other people who were going through something similar to her.

Headway Essex also gave them advice and introduced them to other organisations that could help. They helped get a bus pass for Maria as well as a brain injury awareness card to give her more independence and confidence. Headway Essex also introduced Maria to the Home Start playgroup for parents struggling with confidence, for her and Matthew to attend. They also advised benefits and support entitlements to make their lives easier. Steve and Maria said, “Headway Essex have been brilliant and we are so thankful to them”.

The struggle continues

Maria still struggles with fatigue and sometimes cannot easily find the right words, which can make conversation difficult. Maria and Steve are a great team and work together on their goals. Maria lost basic skills such as reading and writing, but recently achieved a huge goal of being able to read a book to her son, Matthew.

Her personality has changed, where she use to be very outgoing, the injury has had a huge effect on her confidence. She is also teaching herself to write again, but it takes persistence and determination to keep pushing herself forward.

Her determination and hard work are inspirational and she will still have to undergo further plastic surgery on her skull. Despite everything, this remarkable woman sees herself as a mum first and her brain injury comes second.

Headway Essex to be the primary Colchester Half Marathon beneficiary in 2020 – the event’s 10th Anniversary!

Headway Essex to be the primary Colchester Half Marathon beneficiary in 2020 – the event’s 10th Anniversary!


On Sunday 29th March 2020, over 4,000 runners will take on the Colchester Half Marathon to raise over £60k directly and over £250k indirectly through runners’ own efforts for good causes.


Returning for its tenth year, it has firmly established itself as one of the biggest and best races in the region. Organised by a group of dedicated volunteers from Colchester Round Table, alongside many individuals from in and around Colchester, it really is a fantastic community effort with people working tirelessly throughout the year to ensure a great race day experience.


Close to the cause


Headway Essex has been involved with this event for years and manned one of the official water stations, but this year Headway Essex will be the main benefiting charities and will receive a 75% share of the income raised.


The start and finish line is at Weston Homes Community Stadium, almost a stone’s throw away from The Headway Centre and promises to be an amazing mass-participation event bringing together local runners, businesses and the community. Runners can enjoy this half marathon set in the historical town of Colchester while making a positive difference to charities in the area.


Take part with Headway Essex


As a partnership charity we’ve been given 20 guaranteed entry places, all we ask is that you donate/raise £30 and we’ll register for you. In return you’ll receive a Headway Essex technical running vest and a massive cheer on the day. If you’re up for a challenge please get in touch with the fundraising team to register your interest by emailing fundraising@headwayessex.org.uk or calling 01206 845945.


Volunteer with Headway Essex


If that sounds too energetic then why not join us on the day and help us marshal the event. We need to recruit 100 people to help, if this sounds more your cup of tea please get in touch with us at fundraising@headwayessex.org.uk or calling 01206 845945.


Whichever option you choose it’s guaranteed to be an amazing and rewarding experience being part of such a large iconic event.



Headway Essex Classic Vehicle Show brings crowds to Castle Park

Headway Essex Classic Vehicle Show brings crowds to Castle Park

Visitors to the Essex Classic Vehicle show in Colchester Castle Park, on Sunday 15th September, were transported back in time, to admire motoring classics of a bygone age. This nostalgic event organised by local brain injury charity Headway Essex is now in its fourth-consecutive year and continues to grow in popularity.

A thriving event

With over 240 classic vehicles from across the decades on display, the event attracted over 2500 visitors to Lower Castle Park. With a combined vehicle history of over 7,000 years, it was a real treat for visitors to view the classic vehicles in all their glory and chat to the owners.

An arena show presenting the best vehicles was the main event of the day, as the selected proud owners showed off their cherished cars. Trophies were awarded various categories including best pre-war car and best vehicle of the show.

The winner of the coveted ‘Best Vehicle at Show’ was a Ford Popular 103e 1958.

Spectacular entertainment

As well as plenty of wonderful classic vehicles to admire, local singer Steve Brewer and free-runners and acrobats Team Kinetix, entertained the crowds. There was also a wonderful selection of craft, gift and food stalls.

An extremely successful day

This year’s event raised over £10,000 which will go to ensure that Headway Essex can continue to provide rehabilitation and support for brain injury survivors and their families and carers in Essex.

Tracy Wellsted, Headway Essex Fundraising Manager, said: “It was an absolute delight to see so many people attend and raise such a fantastic amount of money. We’re also incredibly grateful to all the classic vehicle owners for their support in making this such a wonderful event and for the Charity Classic Vehicle Club for deciding to partner with us again this year.

“A special thanks as always to our wonderful team of volunteers, including the Rotary Club of Billericay Mayflower and the Essex Police Cadets who helped us run the event on the day.”

Thank you

Everyone at Headway Essex would like to say a massive thank you to all of those involved in the event. To see the photos from the day head over to our Facebook page. For more information on upcoming events please keep an eye on our website and social media; Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

South Essex Sessions Up & Running

South Essex Activity Sessions Up & Running


We are pleased to announce that our South Essex Brain Injury Hub, has rolled out various different activity sessions throughout the summer months, to help people to become more independent and confident.


Brain Injury & Me


Our foundation activity is Brain Injury and Me, a programme created to give the individuals a better insight into their injury, its effects and impact on others and tools and techniques to compensate.


The feedback we have received has been very positive. The attendees claim they have gained peer support and are able to talk freely about their condition, something they may feel unable to do with close family, but with a little encouragement, this obstacle has been overcome. These sessions run for a 9-week period on a Wednesday Morning commencing at 10.00am, until approx. 13.00pm.


Fitness for All


We have also rolled out Fitness for All a gentle exercise class suiting all abilities, which can be done seated or standing. During our class, we aim to help improve balance, posture, core strength, muscle strength and co-ordination. It truly does not matter what your ability is, almost anyone can join in, including those in a wheelchair. Our client’s say they receive great peer support, have a good laugh and enjoy the group discussion once the session has finished. Fitness for All is held every Tuesday afternoon from 1pm, until approximately 14.15pm.


Cooking for the Brain


Our Cooking for the Brain session, follows the Fitness for All class. This is a class to help individuals gain some independence in the kitchen, preparing basic meals using healthy ingredients that can be beneficial to the brain. Cooking for the Brain is held every Tuesday from 14.30pm, until 16.30pm. You may choose to come along to both Fitness for All and Cooking for the Brain on the same day.


Fatigue and Me


Fatigue and Me, will soon be commencing in October. During this session we will discuss ‘What is Fatigue’, it’s effect’s on you and others, we will also look at ways to help you reduce your fatigue levels. These sessions will run for a period of 2 hours, commencing at 14.00pm on a Wednesday afternoon, over a 5 week period.


Contact us


Over the course of the Autumn more sessions will follow, which will be announced in our next Newsletter. To access our sessions please contact the Benfleet Brain Injury Hub on 01206-482461 to gain further information. Please note our sessions will be subject to an assessment.

Halloween Bake Off 2019

Halloween Bake Off 2019

This Halloween Headway Essex are holding a Halloween Bake Off! Get creative, bake some spooky treats and raise money for a great local charity.

Get Involved

To get involved you will have to;

  1. Bake a Halloween treat (this can be a cake, cupcakes, brownies, cookies and more!)
  2. Send us a picture of your creation and a donation to Headway Essex. (Each individual entry is a £1 minimum donation.
  3. We will announce the winners for the following prizes on Thursday 31st October 2019 (via social media) and we will contact you to arrange sending your certificate.
  • Most spooky treat
  • Most gruesome treat
  • Most creative treat

Terms and conditions

Entry pictures can either be emailed to us on fundraising@headwayessex.org.uk or posted on social media (Facebook, Instagram or Twitter) and must use #headwayessexhalloween to be entered

Donations can be made via Facebook, Virgin Money Giving or via PayPal (payments to be made to webshop@headwayessex.org.uk)

All entries must be submitted by Wednesday 30th October 2019


Contact Us

For any questions you may have please contact the fundraising team on 01206 845945 or email fundraising@headwayessex.org.uk

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