Aylesbury charity forced into temporary home due to rent costs

Headway Aylesbury Vale treasurer Cyril Parsons with his wife Joyce
Headway Aylesbury Vale treasurer Cyril Parsons with his wife Joyce

An Aylesbury based charity that provides vital support for brain injury survivors has moved out of its purpose-built centre and into a temporary home after struggling to meet the rent demands.

Headway Aylesbury Vale, which is also facing a trustee shortage, returned earlier this month to the Royal Bucks Hospital in Aylesbury – just four and a half years after relocating to new premises in Fairford Leys.

The charity, which caters for people suffering from Acquired Brain Injury (ABI), is calling on the public to back it by joining its board or by simply volunteering to help run its services.

Headway trustees said they no longer could afford the rent at their base on Wedgewood Street because they had been unable to attract extra people to attend sessions and therefore improve their financial situation.

Treasurer Cyril Parsons said: “We have a very strong core of clients suffering from ABI.

"They regularly attend, and our services are of crucial importance to them and their families.

“However, although we know there are around 1500 people in the local area with ABI, we were unable to attract new clients and did not have sufficient income to continue at a purpose-built centre.”

To make things tougher, the board of trustees is now down to three and has been unable to find new members to take the reins.

Mr Parsons, whose wife Joyce is a survivor of Acquired Brain Injury after a road accident said: “I am 83 now and it would be good to pass on the baton to someone else.

"I know from my personal experience how important our charity is to those in need, but we simply have been unable to attract younger trustees to take us into a modern era.

“Our chairman Phil Simmons has health issues and was planning to stand down but we had to ask him back to take the helm.

"Our national organisation has seconded a third temporary trustee to support us, but that’s it.

"It’s really important we find new trustees because our users are incredibly reliant on our regular services.”

Mr Parsons thanked the Royal Bucks Hospital in Buckingham Road who have given them their current base for free.

He said: "This has meant we are now financially secure for the moment and can run twice weekly sessions.

"We have excellent staff and volunteers – it’s just that we need more support at the top.

"We will be allowed to stay at the hospital for a short term, but after that we need to find a new home and ideally, we need a new chairman and new board to lead us there.”

Headway continues to run sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays but now at the hospital, offering therapy, information and meaningful social activities.

ABI can be caused by illness or an accident and, according to the charity, can ‘literally happen to anyone at any time’.

Mr Parsons’ wife Joyce, now 80, suffers from vascular dementia as well as ABI – which was caused when she was knocked down in 1991.

He said: "Headway has provided a lot of support for both of us.

“She enjoys the activities there, but it also means that I can leave her for two mornings a week without having to worry.

"Many years ago, I was advised not to get into the trap of being a full-time carer to the exclusion of everything else, and this is really important because it means I have some time to do my own thing.

"I am convinced it has helped me maintain my own health.”

Anyone interested in finding out more or helping Headway should contact manager Karen Styles on 01296 415469 or email info.headwayav@gmail.com.