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Stewart Gray

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Stewart Gray

Stewart Gray

Volunteering has helped to get my life back on track.

When football fanatic Stewart Gray was viciously attacked by thugs with an iron bar his life changed in an instant.

He sustained a traumatic brain injury and now struggles with chronic fatigue, memory loss and weakness on the right hand side of his body.

The attack happened whilst he was following England at Euro 2016 in Marseille.

He was eagerly awaiting England's opening match against Russia when a group of hooligans attacked him from behind – leaving him in a coma.

Like many other brain injury survivors, Stewart found that in the months following his brain injury he became very isolated and without his job to keep him socially and cognitively engaged, he quickly entered into a depressive state.

But things improved when he began volunteering at the Headway Hinckley shop.

He said: “Volunteering has been instrumental in my recovery. It has helped me to develop a routine and regain a sense of normality.

"My life completely changed after my brain injury. I know that I'll never be the 'old' Stewart again, and that's okay. But for my own sake, I want to try and regain some elements of my old life.

"Normality for me before my injury was a full-time job and I think volunteering is the closest thing I'll ever get to working again, so I'll continue to do it for as long as I can."

“It has helped me re-establish a sense of normality that I thought I had lost forever.”

Stewart, who is sharing his story as part of Volunteers' Week, said he is also passionate about working in the shop because he understands the impact brain injuries can have on a survivor's life.

He said:

"I know what it’s like to live with a brain injury and I want to do anything in my power to help others like me."

"I help to sift through donations, organise stock and contribute to the general upkeep of the shop. I find the work both physically and mentally stimulating which I think is really important for my recovery.

"I especially struggle with my memory but volunteering has helped with this. I know that if it's a Tuesday or a Thursday, I'll need to make my way to the shop. It's become such a routine for me now."

Since joining the team of 15 other volunteers at the shop, Stewart has never looked back.

He said: "Volunteering here at Headway gets me out the house. It gives me something to do and look forward to, even if it is just for a few hours a day.

 

"If I wasn't volunteering I'd probably just be slumped on the sofa watching daytime TV.

"Volunteering has definitely helped to get my life back on track. I know that I'm doing something worthwhile for myself and my recovery, and knowing that I'm helping to support fellow brain injury survivors across the UK at the same time makes it even more rewarding."

Sarah, Manager of the Headway Hinckley shop, said: "Volunteers are a really important part of our dynamic and the way we work here at the Headway Hinckley shop. Volunteers like Stewart are crucial to the success of the Headway shops and it's always nice to know that volunteering is helping them throughout their recovery too.

"Stewart's progress since he first joined as a volunteer has been incredible and really inspiring to watch and be a part of. He's grown in confidence and his social skills have really improved."

To find out more about how you can get involved as a volunteer for Headway, please visit our volunteer page or, to read more about the Headway Hinckley charity shop, take a look at our Q&A with Shop Manager, Sarah.

Click here to find your local Headway charity shop. 

 

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Headway - the brain injury association is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (Charity no. 1025852) and the Office of the Scottish Regulator (Charity no. SC 039992). Headway is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 2346893.

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