A BRAIN injury survivor is giving back to a charity which provided much-needed support to him and his family during the recovery process.

Headway Worcestershire provides support, services and information to brain injury survivors, their families and carers in the county.

Ryan Bristow, 37, from Warndon has struggled with the effects of his brain injury his entire life, having sustained a traumatic brain injury as a baby.

He volunteers at the Headway shop on St Swithin’s Street, Worcester.

Mr Bristow said: “I began volunteering in the shop because Headway gave me and my family a life-line when I was suffering from the effects of my injury, so I wanted to give something back.

“I love working in the shop - it helps me to structure my week, and I feel like it gives me some purpose.”

Maureen Brown, manager, said: “The shop gives the charity a presence on the high street which is essential for raising awareness of our work.

“It is also an easy-to-reach information hub for anyone who could potentially benefit from Headway’s services but needs to know more.”

During his recovery, he went back to college and worked hard to attain some qualifications.

Mr Bristow added: “I was inspired by one of the Headway counsellors and managed to get some GCSEs.

“I attempted A-levels too but found the fatigue was too much to cope with.”

Pathological fatigue is one of the most commonly experienced effects of brain injury, with 70 per cent of brain injury survivors reporting it as their most debilitating effect.

However this incapacitating and draining effect is widely misunderstood, with many sufferers feeling they’ve been unfairly judged or treated due to assumptions of them being lazy.

Mr Bristow added: “I was bullied throughout school because I was different.

“I’ve always found ways to distract people from my disability, like joking around or getting another tattoo.

“That way I’m known for something other than my disability.

“I choose to not let my brain injury define me or get the better of me, because there is always someone worse off who doesn’t get to choose.”

Headway Worcestershire has been running for 30 years, and provides services to around 300 people every year.

The most common forms of acquired brain injury are traumatic brain injury and stroke.

Other causes include brain tumour, meningitis, aneurysm, and haemorrhage.

Headway Worcestershire - which will be celebrating its 30th anniversary later this year - offers a range of services including outreach, wellbeing services, counselling and self-help groups.

The shop relies on donations of unwanted goods in order to remain open, but stocks are low.

Unwanted items can be dropped off at: 6 St Swithin’s Street, Worcester between open Monday to Saturday, 10am-5pm.

The charity is also looking to recruit more volunteers in the shop to work alongside staff who are brain injuiry surviviors.Anyone interested in offering their time to support the charity, can contact: enquiries@hwtl.org.uk.