Living with Aphasia
[Note: Connect UK aphasia charity has discontinued its services]
Connect – the communication disability network is a charity that helps people with Aphasia, a communication disability which occurs when the communication centres of the brain are damaged. Aphasia is usually caused by stroke, but can also be caused by brain haemorrhage, head injury or tumours.
Every 11 minutes three people in the UK have a stroke about a third of these people will have Aphasia. This amounts to over 367,000 people in the UK, a figure that increases by 20,000 each year. There are more people living with Aphasia than MS and Parkinson’s disease combined.
Aphasia can affect the ability to read, write, speak or use numbers. It affects each person differently. It can affect anyone at any time and at any age. When aphasia strikes it changes people’s lives in an instant. Aphasia can lead to isolation, the breakdown of relationships and at times depression. At Connect we make sure that people with aphasia are at the centre of everything we do. They act as trustees, trainers, advisors, staff members, volunteers, interviewers, service deliverers, co-facilitators, activist and hub members. Connect has a very strong peer-led philosophy. We work in equal partnership with people with aphasia, to develop and offer services that are run by people with aphasia for people with aphasia. An example of our peer-led philosophy in practice is our weekly drop-ins at our London centre, our befriending schemes and our special interests groups.
Below Carol tells her story. Carol Griffiths had a stroke in 2007 when she was 42. She was leading a busy life as a MENCAP carer, teaching assistant and foster mother.
“One day out of the blue I had a stroke and in an instant and my ability to talk was wiped out. I felt so isolated and confused because I could not communicate with people. I felt depressed and very anxious about how I could parent my children properly. I lost most of my old friends, as people lost patience with me. I felt trapped, with my confidence destroyed. I couldn’t carry on with my old life.
Connect helped me to come to terms with what had happened to me. They helped me understand that I didn’t have to go through this process alone. Step by step with diligence and patience they taught me how to communicate and recover my life back. Meeting other people who know what aphasia is like is the key to feeling like I can be myself again. It also is the key to unlocking my potential in helping others and being independent. That’s what Connect and the Connect Cornwall project is all about. With new hope and confidence I wanted a new purpose in life and to ensure that people didn’t become isolated like I did. That’s why I trained to be a Connect befriender.
The first person I visited was Kay. She lived by herself after having aphasia for four years and had little therapy or support. I have helped encourage her to communicate again and in our own way, we chatted about lots of things. I got huge satisfaction from seeing Kay blossom and was delighted when she felt confident enough to train to be a befriender like me.
Since befriending, I’ve gone from strength to strength. I have recently qualified as a teacher and am due to start work soon. Imagine that! I now love standing up and talking to people. When I first came to Connect I couldn’t say ‘Boo’ to a goose.”
Connect has launched its new fundraising campaign called Connect with Friends! Connect is looking for 1,000 people to join our campaign and help us reach our target of £25,000.
We want you to pick a date. Invite your friends and family for a get together over food, coffee or a drink. You choose. Then celebrate the good time you’ve had with a shared donation of £25 to the aphasia charity Connect.
Upload a picture of the time you shared with your friends to our Facebook page. Search: ‘connect –the communication disability network’. Or alternatively send your picture to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All images will be entered into a prize draw held on 20/11/2014 with the winner enjoying an afternoon or baking class, courtesy of Giuliana’s kitchen. ‘You will be learning nothing but the best of British’ with Giuliana in her 1860s London home. www.afternoontealessons.com
Your involvement in the campaign would mean we can reach more people like Carol, helping people with aphasia to reconnect with life and empower them to help other people with aphasia realise their potential.
So sign up today at www.ukconnect.org/2014-campaign and be that #1inathousand!
Thank you National Aphasia Association from everybody at Connect!