‘Showcase’: The front cover of the first issue, and contributors Mike (left) and Ken. Photographs: Headway East London

Brain injury charity Headway East London is launching a culture magazine put together by survivors – which will embrace the “good, bad and ugly” of life.

The first issue of Matter, announced yesterday to coincide with national Action for Brain Injury Week, will feature first-person confessionals, fiction, art, music, philosophy, food and more.

Headway’s Laura Owens says the timing of the launch will “raise awareness of the prevalence of brain injury whilst also showcasing the value in disability, which is often overlooked”.

She added: “The magazine was co-edited by a team of staff and survivors, sharing roles in editorial, design and writing.

“For contributors who have survived brain injuries, this may mark the first time they have publicly shared their experiences in writing, or been given creative responsibilities since their injury.

“For others, it is an opportunity to share new talents and interests developed at Headway despite profound challenges.”

One contributor, Firoza, was just 28 years old when she had a stroke in 2007.

She said: “I wrote a reflective piece where I’m observing life and people and how that relates to me and makes me feel having had a brain injury.

“Coming to Headway has really encouraged me with my writing as I’ve always wanted to have my experiences on paper and I’ve been really bad at doing that previously.”

Silver service: Headway East London member Daniel hard at work setting up for one of their popular supper clubs. Photograph: Headway East London

Gold service: Headway member Daniel setting up for one of the charity’s popular supper clubs. Photograph: Headway East London

Another survivor, Phil, is sharing an extract from a children’s novel he is working on called The Other World.

The 46-year-old father-of-two was a pedestrian in a road traffic accident in 2015, and has problems with physical and cognitive fatigue, memory and concentration.

Photographer Mike was a young man when he was knocked off his motorbike in 1983.

In his piece, Albatross, he talks about the circumstances of his accident and how it has changed his life.

He also reflects on philosophy and religion, and how both have helped him achieve acceptance.

To celebrate the launch of Matter, Headway hosted a special event on Tuesday 22 May, where guests were able to pick up a copy of Matter and chat to contributors.

The magazine is available to order online now, and the charity also has plans to stock it in a number of local outlets and publicise it further with more events.

Headway East London works with over 700 brain injury survivors across 13 London boroughs, offering therapies, advocacy, family support and community support work.

The charity’s recent projects include a supper club and a pop-up art shop.

According to Headway, someone in the UK is admitted to hospital with a brain injury every 90 seconds.

To find out more about the magazine, and to pre-order a copy, please visit mattermag.org

For more information on Headway East London, please visit headwayeastlondon.org 

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