The Brain Charity

on 17/03/2017

Did you know there are hundreds of different kinds of neurological conditions? From alzheimers to epilepsy to ADHD to autism to brain tumours and The Brain Charity helps people nationwide with every single one. This is a charity that does exactly what it says on the tin. No I don’t mean they provide you with a new brain (as one donor asked me this week when out bucket collecting!) but what they do, do is provide emotional and practical support to those people affected and their friends and families too. On top of all that they run lots of awesome social activities such as choirs, craft clubs and thai chi.

Before arriving I was invited by the marvellous Steffi at the Brain Charity to take part in an epic climb as part of their campaign #hifromuphigh. Together our challenge was to conquer by stairs THREE of the TALLEST buildings in Liverpool - the Anglican Cathedral, Royal Liver Building and West Tower all in ONE DAY. To give you some idea - the smallest of the three was the cathedral and that is the fifth biggest cathedral in the world! So take it from me when I say our glutes got a good work out!

After lots of huffing, selfies, sore quads and sweaty backs we made it to the top of our final climb! Sadly the final top didn't have much of a view but the top of the stairwell but we were delighted to have made it and thank you for following. If you wanted to sponsor and haven't yet you can do so on Givepenny here. The post challenge verdict on our bottoms is still not quite Nikki Minaj as hoped but more Miranda (Hart). Still rears aside, you can always check out our training video below if you want a giggle!

What that video doesn’t tell you of course is that the #hifromuphigh campaign all came about because the lift at the Brain Charity is broken and needs repairing. This got everyone thinking about the importance of independence and getting out and above ground as it were. So this week as part of International Brain Awareness Week and thanks to the Brain Charity, selfies of people around the country proudly saying #hifromuphigh have been plastering the twittersphere in order to get people talking about brain conditions. So much so that the lovely Emily and Jonathan from Made in Liverpool TV also came to film us on our quest to raise awareness for neurological conditions!

I was lucky enough to take part in craft club this week. With glitter pens and sticky back plastic in hand, I began chatting to a lady called Alex*. I was intrigued to learn that Alex had once been a teacher who had taught in the UK and overseas in South Korea for many years. Alex told me she has been diagnosed with a number of neurological conditions which, coupled with the discovery of a brain tumour, has weakened her motor and communication skills and meant that she must use a wheelchair. Alex clearly was (and remains) a highly caring and spirited person and after some battles, I am excited to report that she is to become the first person in Liverpool with a neurological condition to foster a child.

I spent some time this week speaking to Paul who advises people with neurological conditions on their welfare and benefits entitlements. The system is complex to me, let alone trying to navigate the waters with a neurological condition and the Brain Charity does admirable work in this field. Their success at tribunal appeal is a testament to their understanding of the system and its sensitivities.

At the Head Matters Tea Party on Wednesday, the charity’s annual open day, I was further treated to a rendition of Mr Sandman by the fantastic Brain Charity choir, sampled some of the delectable delights of their new restaurant, learnt things about the brain from guest speakers I never knew before and heard some stories that have opened my eyes. It has been through speaking to volunteers and beneficiaries at the Brain Charity this week that I have learnt just what a huge impact a neurological condition can have on your life.

One lady in particular sticks in my mind, perhaps because she is around the same age as me. I learnt that she, like me, used to enjoy girls’ holidays abroad, team sports and festivals with friends. Now she explains she no longer goes away because she feels a burden to everyone in a bustling bar and now people have simply stopped asking her out. Where at one time she had a prosperous career, she is now reliant on carers and her daughter to help her with simple day to day tasks like washing her hair. It really hit home to me at that point, how a neurological condition could affect any one of us at any point in our lives. I can only imagine how it would feel to be independent and suddenly have everything you know turned on its head and I really admire her bravery. The Brain Charity for her has been a genuine lifeline, she has found a new friendship group again and through their counselling and support she has resolved to be as best an example as she can be to her daughter of a strong, courageous woman.

It has been a fantastic week volunteering with the Brain Charity, the enthusiasm, passion and endearing eccentricity of its staff and volunteers has led to an entertaining and fulfilling week. If you would like to volunteer for them or watch any more videos about this amazing cause then please take a look at the opportunities and vids on Nicest Jobs here. I take away from it more than just sore legs but great memories and a buzz that I will spread with me on the road to my next charity - Visyon!

Best wishes


P.S. My thanks in particular this week to Steffi Camm, my fellow climber/partner in crime for being such a good sport! And to the Nicest Jobs team for all your moral support!

*Name changed to protect identity

Alice Biggar

Author: Alice Biggar

Alice is our National Philanthropy Manager & current holder of The Nicest Job in Britain.