...in the FIGHT for a full and happy LIFE.
Hello. My name’s Oonagh and I work in the Charity’s Rehabilitation Support team in Lothian. Do you have a few minutes? I’d like to tell you a story about a real fighter - in every sense of the word!
Taking on life’s knocks...
Jimmy Johnson, 72, is an Edinburgh man born and bred. A builder by trade, in his younger days he was well known locally as a boxer and led a happy, active and sociable life in his community.
But in 2009, at the age of 64, he suffered a severe stroke which left him with aphasia. Aphasia means that damage to the brain impairs expression and understanding of language, as well as reading and writing. This makes the everyday communication we take for granted incredibly challenging. Thankfully, he had the loving support of his partner, who was by his side at this very difficult time.
However, fate dealt Jimmy another devastating blow when his partner tragically passed away several years later.
As he struggled to get over his loss he became very low. His frustration at being unable to communicate like he used to meant he lost the ability to express his emotions. As a consequence, he rarely ventured out and became isolated and lonely.
Rehabilitation support service user
Happily, things changed for Jimmy last year when his NHS Speech and Language Therapist referred him to us! We visited him at home and encouraged him to try our Lothian Rehabilitation Support Group.
And I’m delighted to say that from the moment we welcomed him in, he loved it! He quickly established a bond with other members of the group and one in particular, Tony, whom he discovered had a shared love of... boxing!
We’re in his corner...
We support stroke survivors like Jimmy through one-to-one support in their own home, in the community and in group settings. We have a team of volunteers, thoroughly trained by the Charity in how to support individuals with communication difficulties post-stroke.
Our dedicated REHABILITATION SUPPORT TEAMS directly helped 229 stroke survivors in Lothian last year and 1152 across Scotland
We aim for one volunteer for every service user so they can focus on the unique communication needs of each person – it is all about what matters to them. Members enjoy word and picture-based activities or quizzes on a wide range of topics and items currently in the news. It’s all designed to encourage conversation, writing, drawing and gesture.
After attending the group, we encourage them to re-engage in their community and live their lives as fully as they can. We will often suggest they join a local Peer Support Group - the Charity helps to set these up in the community, and they then run independently.
Still standing strong....
I’m happy to say that, with the support of his new partner Sue, Jimmy has improved so much that he will soon be ready to leave our Service and move on to his local Peer Support Group. Here, he’ll continue to find friendship, laughter and support alongside people who share an understanding about living with communication difficulties. Together, they can continue building up their confidence in a more relaxed environment – and live their lives to the full.
I can tell you that Jimmy has rapidly become one of the real livewires of the group and it is people like him that make my job so worthwhile. I am proud to be part of our Rehabilitation Support Service and it is thanks to the support of donors just like you that we can continue to be here for people like Jimmy in communities across Scotland.
‘Prior to coming along, I wouldn’t socialise and didn’t feel confident enough to go out. But now, I actively look forward to coming along to the group every week”. Jimmy
HOW YOU CAN HELP
With your continued support, we can continue to grow, train and support our excellent team of Rehabilitation Support staff and volunteers – and make sure we can reach everyone who needs us.
Please make a donation this Spring so we can continue to help people just like Jimmy back on their journey to a fuller and happier life.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my letter.
Rehabilitation Support Coordinator, Lothian