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The Brain Injury Climbing Club

We want to establish a rock-climbing club for people who have survived brain injuries.

Headway East London is a charity working with over 600 survivors and their family members across 13 London boroughs, supporting them to discover new value in lives impacted by physical and cognitive disability. We believe climbing can be a transformative activity for our members. Climbing is recognised as having significant benefits for people with neurological impairments, encouraging physical rehabilitation and the ‘neuroplasticity’ vital to recovery. But perhaps even more importantly, climbing can change brain injury survivors' sense of who they are and what they can achieve.

In pilot groups we have already supported around 12 survivors to discover climbing. In the words of one of our members, a young Eritrean woman significantly disabled by a brain infection, “Climbing has changed my idea of what's possible for me. I’m finding confidence in doing something I never thought I could do, and taking back control of my own life after everything that’s happened to take that control away from me." Another of our group says that “When I climb, I feel able.”

In addition to these benefits, our club will form an inclusive and supportive community for some of the most isolated and vulnerable people in our city. We will run eight formal inclusive climbing sessions across the first six months of 2019 at the Castle Climbing Centre in Stoke Newington, supporting around 20 people with a wide range of access needs to take part. As our club members become more experienced climbers across the six months, we will meet more regularly and our more confident climbers will take on roles supporting newer members. Our hope is to foster a self-sustaining and diverse community of committed disabled and non-disabled climbers, developing confidence and self-understanding through a shared experience of overcoming challenges on the wall.

What our grantee is saying: "It means so much to have the support of the foundation and to be a part of this network of inspiring projects and people. We think climbing is special - at once mindful and playful; an empowering individual practice and a social movement which brings diverse people together - and we want to make it open to everyone, no matter their access requirements. This grant will allow us to take a step towards that. We're so grateful for that show of confidence, in us and in the ability of brain injury survivors to do extraordinary things."

Funded by Disability (October 2018)