Headway North West London (HNWL) provides support and services for those in the local community whose lives have been affected by acquired brain injury. Based in Harrow, HNWL is an independent registered charity and a limited company with its own constitution.
HNWL has developed from Headway Harrow, a support group for adults with an acquired brain injury, and their families and carers. Headway Harrow was established in 1994, by members of the team from the Regional Rehabilitation Unit (which only opened in 1993) at Northwick Park Hospital, as there was no support available in the local community for adults with an acquired brain injury, after they were discharged from a hospital or rehabilitation facility. This group helped members to feel less isolated, signposted them to services, and helped them to cope with the overwhelming changes that acquired brain injury had brought to their lives.
Feedback from the support groups highlighted that some individuals needed more intensive support than could be provided by a monthly evening meeting, and that some kind of day facility was required. The geographic spread of membership of Headway Harrow demonstrated that the organisation provided an essential service beyond Harrow, and this contributed to the transition of Headway Harrow into Headway North West London – which came into being in 2004, when the organisation registered as a charity and became a company limited by guarantee. HNWL’s planned catchment area was the 5 boroughs of Harrow, Brent, Hillingdon, Ealing and Barnet.
In September 2006, HNWL recruited a part-time Service Co-ordinator, the organisation’s first member of staff, with the specific remit of establishing a day facility. This day facility, known as the LINK, opened in November 2006, to provide informal social rehabilitation for people in North West London with an acquired / traumatic brain injury.
The Harrow Support Group [as the former Headway Harrow is now known] meets on one evening a month, to offer emotional and practical support, information, and a social network to adults with an acquired brain injury and their families and carers.
Although fully independent, HNWL is affiliated to “Headway – the brain injury association”, which is the leading UK charity dedicated to the care and support of people affected by acquired brain injury, with a network of groups and branches across the UK. Headway – the brain injury association promotes understanding of acquired brain injury, campaigns for better resources, produces a range of publications and operates a national helpline.