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Headway Essex’s Virtual Colour5K, An Event Everyone Can Enjoy!

At the start of the year, Headway Essex Staff and volunteers were planning to spend last Saturday getting covered in coloured paint at our eighth annual Colour5K event.

Unfortunately, when Covid-19 struck, we realised that the event would have to be cancelled. From the offset, we were determined that we couldn’t let the pandemic stop us from bringing our Headway Essex community together with some colour, something we’re somewhat famous for in Colchester. So the team put their heads together and our Virtual Colour5K event was proudly launched on the 1st June 2020.

Headway Essex’s First Virtual Inclusive Event

The Virtual Colour5K is our most inclusive event so far, as anyone, regardless of their age, ability, or fitness level can take part. Walk, run, skip or dance, using wheelchairs, frames, or use any aids you need to make it to 5 kilometres, we don’t mind at all. The only rules are that you have to dress up in your MOST colourful attire, the more flamboyant the better, and complete the challenge by the end of July.

One Month Down, One More to Go

We are over the moon at how this event has been received by our community. Many people have already completed their challenge, and have a lovely medal and certificate to show for it, and many more are planning or working towards their Virtual Colour5K goal.

Providing a Positive Focus

One amazing supporter, Danielle Crane, enjoyed our Colour5K event a few years ago, crossing the finish line, with her young sons cheering her on from the sidelines. At that time, they were too little to join their mum in the event, but 2020 was going to be the year that they could finally do so. When our event was cancelled, Danielle’s six-year-old son, Scott, was devastated, however, he soon cheered up when he realised he could still complete his 5K at home!

Danielle was very thankful for the Virtual Colour5K challenge as “It was helpful for Scott to have a challenge to work on, especially something physically active, as he can often spend a lot of time inside because of the lockdown. It was also nice for all of us to have something positive to focus on and a way of helping others during such a difficult time.”

The Crane Family’s Virtual Colour5K Experience

Scott ran approximately 300 lengths of his garden and went on long walks over the course of two weeks to complete the challenge, his three-year-old brother, Murray, frequently kept him company. Danielle loved watching her boys together, “they turned it into a game by doing lots of different types of runs/walks, often pretending to be robots or doing slow motion runs. It was lovely seeing how proud Scott was whenever he’d managed to run another 1k”.

Get Involved

Danielle couldn’t emphasis enough that others should get involved, commenting “the fact that the event can be completed flexibly made it much easier for my young kids to join in. We all put on rainbow face paint and the boys enjoyed wearing their rainbow socks. Scott is so proud that he has raised £190.94 for an amazing cause such as Headway Essex and can’t wait to show off his medal”.

If you want to also take part in the Virtual Colour5K then please head to our Virtual Colour5K Event Page.

Gemma at South & West Hub

South & West Essex Brain Injury Hub’s 1st Anniversary!

One year ago in June 2019 we started on a very exciting journey; to expand our services for Adults with Acquired Brain Injury and their families living in South Essex, with the launch of our Day Service activity sessions. As the newly appointed Service Manager it was both an exciting and equally nervous time.

Located in Benfleet, the South & West Essex Brain Injury Hub brought together activity sessions alongside the support we provide in the community, supporting our objectives to help adults with acquired brain injury to become more confident, independent and to regain lost skills.

This dream could not have become a reality without the help of the National Lottery Community Fund and an amazing team of staff and volunteers who believed in the vision and made it happen.

So, where has the last year gone… I cannot believe that our Brain Injury Hub is one-year-old!

Thank You to our Client’s, Their Families & Our Volunteers

I am so proud of what we have achieved and I wanted to mark the occasion by thanking all our lovely clients, their family members and of course our wonderful volunteers and staff for all their support over the last 12 months.

We had some big plans to mark our Year anniversary but sadly due to the pandemic these have been put on hold. However, we still aim to celebrate so watch this space for further announcements.

Adapting Our Service

Over the last three months we have diversified our service due to the coronavirus pandemic. We are now busy providing virtual activity sessions and support meetings over Zoom which have proved to be a huge success. In fact, this is something that we wish to continue with even when we are allowed to resume service. We can see that by having a virtual Hub alongside our day sessions, we are able to reach out to a bigger audience, allowing individuals who have not previously accessed our Day Services, to do so.

And we are still supporting all our clients in the community with regular welfare calls to make sure they are coping, they have the support they need and their health and well-being is maintained.

Looking to the Future

So, what does the next year have in store for us? One thing I am sure of is that we will develop our Virtual Hub alongside our Day service, why stop something when it has proved to be so successful?


Gemma Baines,

South and West Hub Manager.

life after lockdown blog

Life After Lockdown with Acquired Brain Injury

As the UK begins to relax lockdown restrictions, I find myself thinking about our clients and others who live with an acquired brain injury, and how they will cope in this new socially distanced world.

The restrictions brought about to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has changed everyone’s life and for someone living with acquired brain injury and their family or carers, this compounds the difficulties they are already living with and the adjustments they have already had to make to their lives.

All Brain Injuries Are Different

The experience of everyone with a brain injury is different; and for some it is very much a hidden disability.

For many, with the right support and rehabilitation they will get back to living a fairly normal life but could still experience deficits in their cognitive function affecting areas such as; learning, thinking, reasoning, remembering, problem solving, decision making, and attention. For others, their brain injury may affect their social skills and may reduce their inhibitions, make them more impulsive and unable to assess risks.

COVID-19 Restrictions Can Be Difficult to Follow

They may not understand the need for social distancing, remember to wash their hands, wear face coverings or know why they can’t just hug someone they know. There is a risk impulsively could mean they approach or even try to hug a stranger in the street and find themselves in a difficult situation, being shouted at or worse.

Hopes for a More Tolerant and Inclusive Community

At Headway Essex we will do everything we can to help our clients and their families adjust to this new way of living, through our regular welfare calls and on-line support groups and activity sessions.

My hopes are that over the last 10 weeks of lockdown that as a nation our values have shifted.

Instead of the usual ‘busy, busy, busy’ lifestyle, we take time to slow down, and really acknowledge what and who is around us and recognise those who may be in more need of support and understanding.

We need to ensure that the amazing spirit we saw when the Government asked for 250,000 volunteers and three times that number came forward remains – and we treat people who behave differently with kindness and compassion.


Stella Kerins

Head of Brain Injury Care Services, Headway Essex

Virtual Colour5K Blog Banner

Virtual Colour5K Launch

The Virtual Colour5K

This year we were due to hold our eighth annual Colour5K at the Ardleigh Showground on Saturday 27 June 2020. Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we could not hold the event.

Recognising how much support there is for this popular and fun event and knowing we still need to raise vital funds, we set out to find a way we could bring all the fun of the event to people remotely. So was born the first ever Virtual Colour5K which will be even more inclusive and as much fun as it has ever been.

An Amazing New, Inclusive Event for All

The event welcomes all ages and abilities. There are no minimum or maximum age requirements and it does not matter what level of fitness that you have.

All participants need to do is walk, push, run, skip or dance 5 kilometres, wearing the brightest and most fun items of clothing from their wardrobe.

People can complete the event over several days or weeks, or do it all in one day, using mobility aids, where needed.

The challenge can be completed around the home, in the garden, or outside as part of a daily exercise routine. How you choose to complete it is entirely up to you.


A Message from Headway Service Users

Tara, who took part in the 2019 Colour5K said:

“It was great to see people from all walks of life come together to raise money for their chosen charity. People were dressed for the occasion in tutu’s and T-shirt’s, every lap we completed we got covered in a different colour. Everyone had a fun tiring day. I hope people will show their support for Headway Essex by signing up for the new Virtual Colour5K, this year”

Matt, who has taken part in 3 Colour5K’s said:

“My balance is not very good and I use a walking aid to walk outside. I have entered the colour run three times now. I use my walking aid and my carer guides me round. Last time I only completed one circuit as it was so hot. It is great because you can go at your own pace and complete however many circuits that you can. Everyone in the run encouraged me so much by clapping and cheering me as they went past. I felt really good that I was able to it.  Of course this year the colour run has been cancelled but we can all challenge ourselves to do the Virtual Colour5K at home. I hope to be at the starting post again next year but this year I hope to do the Virtual Colour5K.”

Taking Part is Easy

Anybody interested in taking part can sign up via the Virtual Colour 5K event page on the Headway Essex website anytime between now and the end of July. There’s only one rule and that’s to dress up in your MOST colourful attire, the more flamboyant the better, and complete the 5K challenge by the end of July.

Help Raise Money to Transform the Lives of Adults with Acquired Brain Injury

Like many other charities, we have lost income from cancelled events as a result of the coronavirus restrictions. Money raised from the Virtual Colour 5K will go towards providing rehabilitation and support for brain injury survivors and their families and carers in Essex.

The event is free to enter, but for those who can afford to, the charity would appreciate an optional donation of £5 to take part. There is also an option to set-up a fundraising page and anyone raising £25, or over, as part of their fundraising efforts, will receive a stunning Colour5k medal with our thanks!

So what are you waiting for? Sign-up, dig out your funky leggings, jazzy T-shirt and colourful headband from the bottom of your drawers and get moving for Headway Essex!


Our thanks to our sponsor, Attwells Solicitors and race supporter, Inspire Races.


supporting you always blog

Headway Essex Supporting You At All Times

Coronavirus has made life feel very different for everyone, but at Headway Essex we want to make sure that we can continue to support you throughout these very different and challenging times.

Virtual Activity Sessions

If you are an existing client who attended the Headway Centre in Colchester or Activity Sessions in our South Essex Hub, before lockdown, you will have been invited to attend virtual activity session, which include:

Fitness Groups, Managing Fatigue, Social Groups, Understanding Brain Injury, Quizzes, Carers Groups, education and Cognitive Rehabilitation.

These sessions are underpinned by regular calls from your support worker to check your general health and wellbeing and help keep you on track to achieve your recovery goals.

If you don’t want to join a virtual group, you can try a Headway Essex seated fitness class with personal trainer Matt Brinkley in your own time. You can follow Matt’s class on You Tube using this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZkW4KPyHqk&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR16Dr9YqrFYV6_ogGOh4Z6p1xOHtpZltO_YPUEosM7UpsBoc7dR9Gcrlzw

Welfare Calls

We understand that our Virtual Groups may not right for all of our clients, so we want to reassure you that we are here for everyone and will tailor our support to your needs. We will schedule regular calls to check your general health and wellbeing and put in place support to help you cope in the lockdown situation.

You can also call us on 01206 845945 or e-mail abisupport@headwayessex.org.uk when you need help.

New Referrals

Our virtual doors are still open to all adults and their families in Essex, living with and acquired brain injury.

Stella Kerins, Head of Brain Injury Care Services at Headway Essex said: “We have had to change the way we do things but we are determined to be here for our clients and their families and we are still responding to new referrals”.

If you have had a brain injury or are caring for someone with a brain injury, and you need help, you can contact Headway Essex  by e-mailing abisupport@headwayessex.org.uk or by calling 01206 845945.

For more information on making a referral click here

Stella hats for headway blog

Hats off to you all

Over the weekend I was reflecting on the annual UK wide ‘Hats off for Headway Campaign’. I started thinking about different hats that our team members wear professionally when working with clients – who all have an acquired brain injury.

These hats range from:

  • Listening ear
  • Advocate
  • Brain Injury expert
  • Confidante
  • Educator
  • Supporter
  • Safety net
  • Motivator
  • Rehabilitator
  • Straight-talker
  • Welfare advisor


The team deal with so many challenging situations on a daily basis, and I hope the following provides some insight into this.

Answering a Cry for Help

Starting from our first contact which is often answering a cry for help where we will be listening, reassuring and advising the person on the phone. This leads to a more detailed assessment, which is carried out by an experienced member of the team who explores the needs of the individual and those they live with and how we can best meet those needs.

Understanding and Addressing Needs

A keyworker is then appointed based on the individual’s needs, goals and long-term ambitions. The keyworker will work with the client to come up with a ‘care plan’ and together they will complete an ‘Outcome Star’ where they agree and set goals for over the coming weeks and months. Often family members are included during the goal setting exercise, as they can support the person at home in between their contact with Headway Essex.

Understanding Brain Injury

Brain injury is the hidden disability, walking down the street, going into a shop even meeting up with someone you haven’t seen for a long-time is challenging for some. The keyworker needs to understand the person they were before the injury and how the individual has been affected by their particular brain injury. People affected by acquired brain injury and those around them don’t always immediately realize how brain injury affects day-to-day information processing and the effect this has on normal responses and reactions – it changes someone’s personality.

Straight Talking and Supportive

The team at Headway are often the sounding board for much of this distressing change, they then need to work with the individual and family, being direct and honest about the impact that this has had on their life and find ways to help them to manage and adjust to it.

Feedback Makes it all Worthwhile

Getting feedback from clients makes wearing all of these hats worthwhile.

Today, a client said: “I would just like to say how Headway have helped me after my brain aneurysm, with weekly phone call from the girls. I’m now in touch with others who have had similar problems, I really appreciate your time and reassurance, so many thanks.”

Keeping Close to Our Clients During Lockdown

Since lockdown we have been working differently with our clients using telephone welfare calls and virtual activity sessions as the mainstay of our services.

One of our Hub Managers, Gemma, recently explained to me how this new way of working has somehow made the relationship with clients feel much closer! She also explained that over the last two months we have learnt more about our clients and their family members than ever before.

Headway Essex are here to support our clients through some very emotional times by offering support with goals and ambitions, helping them gain access to supplies, and by being that listening ear.

It’s food for thought for all of us – because whatever hat we are wearing, we know that our support is important to them and us, now more than ever.

Join us for Hats at Home for Headway Essex

You can help ensure our support is always there for adults with acquired brain injury and their families by joining us on Friday 15th May for Hats at Home for Headway. More detail can be found on our website here.

Stella at headway center

Headway Essex Zooms Ahead

When Stella Kerins started her new job, at the beginning of March this year, as Head of Brain Injury Care Services at Headway Essex she could not have envisaged how quickly things would change. In her first blog she talks about one of the ways the service has responded to the Coronavirus Pandemic, by delivering virtual activity groups.

Changing the Way we Deliver our Support

The whole country has gone through a lot of changes recently, but at Headway Essex we are still here for our clients and their families. The team are quite literally ‘Zooming Ahead’; working from home our amazing team are providing day centre activities, support groups and social groups through the virtual platform Zoom.

Our hub services are running via virtual groups and one-to-one telephone support – and I would like to extend a huge thank you not only to our staff but to our wonderful clients and their families, who have adapted to this new and interesting way of keeping on track with brain injury rehabilitation in Essex.

Providing a Choice of Activities

Things are continuing as close to normal as possible in this strange new world we have found ourselves in. We still hold exercise groups to support balance and coordination and to encourage fitness. We work on confidence and processing skills through sessions like cognitive rehabilitation and quizzes – we also monitor client’s individual goals and encourage them to achieve them despite the current situation.

Whilst not everything is possible at present we are focusing on quality and not quantity. Our clients continue to show that together we can achieve anything, and nothing can stop us.

Here for Our Clients and Their Families

No matter where we are working from, we are Headway Essex and we will continue to support our clients and their families.

This is my first blog for Headway Essex, and I hope to continue to write and share my future blogs with you on a regular basis. If there is anything you would like me to talk about, please let me know by contacting me on stella.kerins@headwayessex.org.uk.

Headway Essex needs your help, now more than ever, to ensure we can continue to provide this support. Please visit our Urgent Appeal page and help if you can https://www.headwayessex.org.uk/i-want-to-help/urgent-appeal/

fundraising at home blog

Fundraising From Home

The Coronavirus may have put a halt on traditional fundraising, but it cannot keep us down. Our clients need to be supported now more than ever, so we need your help! Thankfully, we got our creative caps on and have come up with some suggestions on how to raise vital funds for brain injury survivors, and their families and carers – all from the comfort of your home!

Your at-home fundraising toolkit

  • You can set up a fundraising page with either Virgin Money Giving or Just Giving so people can donate, sponsor your at-home activity, or pay entry into your virtual fundraising event
  • You can set up a Zoom or Skype account so lots of people can join in with your virtual event via video
  • You can use social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share your progress or celebrate your fundraising success

Virtual fundraising event inspiration

  • Host a virtual pub quiz for your friends, family and co-workers to participate in. You could ask them to donate what they’d usually spend on drinks at the pub.
  • Teach a masterclass to anyone that wants to learn a new skill – this time is the perfect opportunity to be learning something new! Your masterclass could be teaching anything, from giving music lessons to demonstrating how to arrange flowers. You could ask people to donate what they feel the masterclass is worth via our donation page
  • Host a virtual dog contest including anyone and everyone who has a pooch! Ask people to send in pictures and pay £2 to enter into the following categories: Prettiest Pooch, Best Senior, Dog That Most Looks Like Its Owner, Best Puppy, Best Rescue, and Best Dressed. You then judge which dog wins each category and then send pictures of the winning dogs to fundrasising@headwayessex.org.uk. Headway Essex will then judge which dog wins Best In Show and put that lucky pooch in our quarterly newsletter!

Other ways to fundraise from home

  • Have a clear out of all your unwanted books, CD’s, videos and games. Ziffit buys your unwanted items off you and collects them for free (now using DPD’s contact-free collection services for everyone’s safety). You could donate the proceeds from your clear out to Headway Essex via our donation page
  • Grow your hair and donate what you would typically spend at a hairdressers/barbers to Headway Essex. If you are feeling brave then you could ask people to sponsor you and the highest donator gets to choose your next hair style!
  • Create a Coronavirus swear jar if you want to discourage people talking about it 24/7. Make a rule that everyone has to put 50p into the jar if they bring up the Coronavirus. Donate the proceeds of your jar to Headway Essex.


We’d love to know about your fundraising journeys, please feel free to send pictures to fundraising@headwayessex.org.uk or tag us on social media so we can celebrate you!

If you can’t do any fundraising right now but you still want to support us, please head to our emergency appeal page to make a donation.


David Tennant Client Blog

A Very Special Message

David Tennant’s Very Special Message to all our Clients

Firstly, from all of us at Headway Essex, we would like to send our clients, carers, volunteers, friends, and anyone who is affected by recent events, our best wishes and gratitude for the support you have given to us and others, over these unusual couple of months.

As many of you know, David Tennant has been a loyal patron of Headway Essex for over 15 years; and cares deeply about the wellbeing of us all, especially during these unprecedented times. David has very kindly sent us a very special message just for you:



Thank you so much for the kind words of support David!

We hope this message means as much to you, as it does to all of us who work at Headway Essex.

It’s been a difficult few weeks for everyone, so we wanted to welcome the Easter weekend with some positivity. Thank you to everyone who’s got involved with our work, from contributing to our social media, organising virtual fundraising events or just reaching out to someone who needs support. You are amazing!

We’ll be in touch soon with another update on how we’re continuing to offer support to our clients and carers through this crisis. We will be publishing a webpage with some useful links, practical help and advice, and some fun activities, watch this space.

In the meantime, please stay safe, stay positive and most importantly, stay connect to loved ones.

Headway Essex are always here for you, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need our support.

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.

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