Since its launch by Prince Harry in 2017, Headway’s Brain Injury Identity Card and the Justice Project that it supports have gone from strength to strength.
The need for the card has never been greater. In a recent survey for our See the Hidden Me campaign, more than three quarters of brain injury survivors experienced problems on a daily basis as a result of their brain injury being hidden.
Even those who experience visible effects of their injury such as balance problems encounter barriers to engaging with society, with many people reporting that they have been mistakenly treated as being drunk.
The overwhelming feedback is that when people find themselves in these difficult and distressing situations, presenting the ID Card quickly diffuses the situation and ensures people get the right support at the right time. It’s a simple solution to a tricky conversation.
In this special feature, we celebrate this important milestone by exploring what the card means to people. We also explore another vital side of our work – the ID Card’s role in the Headway Justice Project and the ways in which brain injury survivors have gained access to specialist support which ensures fair treatment when they came into contact with the criminal justice system.
We’re delighted to celebrate the 10,000th Brain Injury Identity Card, which was issued on 1st July 2022 to Headway Worcestershire member Doralida Williams, who is already feeling a boost in confidence when out and about.
We spoke to her about life with a brain injury and the difference the card has made...
“In November 2015 I had just finished working at a 10-pin bowling facility in Worcester, where I’d been for 10 years as a bar person and cook.
“My new job awaited me, but on that Sunday I experienced a stroke which led to me being in hospital for 15 weeks, mostly spent in a coma.”
Doralida received incredible help from her partner who she describes as a ‘guardian angel’, but he then experienced a heart attack in 2017. It was at this point that she saw an advert for her local Headway group.
She explained: “I visited to see what it would involve, and really liked the place and the people. I now attend on one full day a week.
“The stroke affected the left-hand side of my body, my sight and my memory. I found my speech had become a little fast and mumbled.”
In the years that followed the stroke, Doralida encountered a range of difficulties and misunderstandings while out and about, hitting her confidence and making it more difficult to engage with society.
When she found out about the Brain Injury Identity Card, Doralida made an application with support from the team at Headway Worcestershire.
“I always carry my card with me now whenever I visit the shops or go to the theatre at weekends,” said Doralida.
“It is very comforting to know that I have it with me should I need to explain to anyone why I might be a bit slow or forgetful.
To anyone who might be struggling with the effects of their brain injury I’d say without a doubt, apply for the Brain Injury Identity Card.
Samantha Ashcroft started attending Headway Blackpool in 2000 when she began caring for her best friend, who sustained a severe brain injury following a road traffic accident. Her friend sadly passed away, but Samantha continued to volunteer until a permanent job became available developing the service.
A highly respected and integral member of the team, Samantha now also works as Network Coordinator at Headway Salford.
Since its inception, Samantha has supported countless people to apply for a Brain Injury Identity Card. Here, she speaks to us about the need for the card and the positive changes she sees in people who have it...
“Most of my group don’t socialise outside of Headway,” said Samantha. “They say that people just don’t understand how difficult it is to live with a hidden disability.
“Many of them battle with fatigue, and when they have multiple tasks to do it can have a knock-on effect for days afterwards, causing some of them to become emotionally distressed and anxious.
“One lady uses a walker when she’s tired, but chooses not to when she goes out with her 25-year-old friends and is often refused entry when she is mistaken for being drunk. Having the ID Card helps to explain about her brain injury and makes a huge difference.
“We also supported a man who split from his long-term partner and was arrested when he continued to send her cards and flowers. He used his card in the custody suite, and was assigned an appropriate adult who supported him all the way through the process.
“When the police called to talk about the card, they requested posters and information to help officers who are not aware of it, and this is now being incorporated into their training in the North West.
I’d encourage anyone who needs it to apply for the card straight away. My members say that it gives them the confidence to know that if they show their card, they won’t get questioned about their brain injury.
Simply visit our Brain Injury Identity Card page to find out more and start your application.
You can use our online application form or download a printable version from this page.
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