20th August, 2014
Headway Cambridgeshire was delighted to host a visit by the Mayor of Cambridge, Councillor Gerri Bird, to its Fulbourn hub on Wednesday 13 August 2014. She came with her partner Mr Alan Pooley, JP, to look round and talk to clients and she ended up cycling in the gym!
When Cllr Gerri Bird, took office as Mayor in June 2014, she pledged to raise awareness of issues facing disabled people in the community. Indeed, she has been a tireless campaigner on disability issues for many years, helping to raise the profile of disabled people and tackling issues affecting accessibility.
Staff and clients were very pleased when they heard that Gerri was coming to visit Headway Cambridgeshire and meet with the clients. She and her consort spent time talking with the clients and listening to their views.
David, one of Headway Cambridgeshire’s clients said: “She understands what it means to be disabled. She’s doing everything she can to improve the situation with regard to toilets and footpaths. She was very interested in us. She told us about her experiences and she spent a long time with us, talking to us. The Deputy Mayor joined in the conversation too. They work well together as a team.”
David raised a particular issue with Cllr Gerri Bird: that of the deterioration of footpaths in Cambridge and the effect that can have on vulnerable users. In particular, David mentioned a network of paths between Arbury Court (a local pedestrianized shopping area of Cambridge) and the surrounding streets. There are footpaths there, that have been gradually been deteriorating over a period of 30 years. In particular, there are bumps caused by tree roots growing just under the surface and also potholes that have filled with rain and mud. Anyone using these with a wheelchair, a walking frame or with a child’s buggy finds it very difficult to navigate these paths safely. Especially at a bend and one suddenly has to dodge out of the way of oncoming cyclists travelling at speed. Cllr Bird says she will be looking into this issue and David is looking forward to finding out what the Council will do to make improvements.
Gerri and her partner looked around at the facilities on offer at Headway Cambridgeshire and seemed impressed with all the facilities we offer adults recovering from brain injury. She took an interest in the gym and tried out some of the equipment, guided by Veer Dhillon, Headway Cambridgeshire’s gym instructor. Headway Cambridgeshire will soon be opening up access to our gym to the public on Mondays and Gerri said she would be interested in supporting that initiative.
“ The Hospital Brain Injury Co-ordinator became someone who absolutely understood how I felt, I didn’t need to explain. I could talk about my fears and worries. She was such a great support through the difficult days, but could also celebrate the small step successes, which was important to me. ”