Guernsey Press

Headway goes from ‘strength to strength’

HEADWAY Guernsey has gone from ‘strength to strength’ after coming out of the pandemic, according to executive director Philippa Stahelin.

Headway team members, left to right, director Stuart Anderson, service director Orla-Marie Manning, chairman Nick Bennett, executive director Philippa Stahelin and treasurer Richard Stapley. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31084133)

The charity, which has recently appointed a new board, focuses on supporting people and families who are dealing with the long-term effects of brain trauma.

‘We learned an awful lot during Covid and I think we realised just how unique and vital our services are,’ said Mrs Stahelin, who added that the charity had some risk management sessions about six months prior to the start of the pandemic, working with Black Arrow Cyber Security, and were ‘prepared for the eventuality of being forced to operate without having face-to-face sessions available’.

That enabled the staff to work remotely and access the database from home.

‘We split our members up and contacted people on the phone once or twice a week to make sure nobody was feeling isolated,’ she said.

‘We also anticipated that when we could return to face-to-face sessions there would still be some measures in place, so we ran small groups across the week so we could operate with social distancing.

‘That experience of running in such a different way has also made us adapt permanently and become more varied in the services we offer, and having that flexibility now is fantastic.'

Headway's new board includes chairman Nick Bennett, treasurer Richard Stapley, Orla-Marie Manning, who has moved from service manager to service director, as well as executive director Phillipa Stahelin and clinical neurologist Dr Stuart Anderson. Geraldine Williams and Aimee Parr also work for the charity alongside Mrs Manning and Mrs Stahelin on the core team.

‘I am really excited personally about the new board, Nick is a great appointment as chairman, he is really dynamic and passionate and Stuart provides real medical credentials,’ said Mrs Stahelin.

‘It is so important to have such these sorts of people working for the charity because the island could not function without charities like Headway and Covid definitely made that point of our importance.

‘People did not stop having strokes or having head injuries during the pandemic. We kept in contact and our service director went to the hospital and helped to assess patients.’

Headway is the only charity in Guernsey offering services to help people who have suffered from head traumas to complete or get closer to recovery following being discharged from the hospital, and it does not receive funding from the States.

Part of Mrs Stahelin’s role as executive director is to raise around £100,000 a year from the community to keep the charity running.

‘You come out as somebody else after having a serious brained trauma or a stroke, your whole life changes so people need that emotional and cognitive support.

‘We have a lot of focus on the psychosocial aspect, which means aiding members in learning to live with being a modified version of themselves.

‘There has definitely been an increase in demand for our service recently, too, and I do not think it is because there are more brain traumas or strokes. I think it is more because after building up as a service for 15 years we are being seen now more as the first port of call.’