Northern Ireland charity Brain Injury Matters (NI) has been awarded nearly £200,000 for their Family First Service from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

The Family First Service – a Northern Ireland wide service – is a collaborative venture, led by Brain Injury Matters (NI), in partnership with the Psychology Services at the Belfast Health and Social Trust supporting families whose child has an acquired brain injury (ABI).  The project launched in 2015 and has been funded to the tune of £199,959 by the National Lottery Community fund since its commencement.

Joe Mc Vey, CEO of Brain Injury Matters, said: “This new fund further enhances our capability to deliver the Family First Service.  By developing what we offer within this service, we are confident that this new fund will help us continue to meet family’s needs, offer additional support to siblings and deliver additional online services. We are delighted to have the continued support from the Lottery and to strengthen our partnership with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.”

The Family First Service project provides specific interventions to support and empower families to meet the challenges of supporting their child with an acquired brain injury (ABI). Overall the family first project has enabled families to live beyond acquired brain injury and enabled them not to be solely defined by their child’s injury.

Thanks to the funding from National Lottery, Brain Injury Matters (NI) Family First project will be able to continue their home based work, more work with siblings, continued Partnership with the Belfast Trust and develop their on-line portal. This will ensure that families with a child who has ABI will have continued access to tailored services, more access to the Family First team, to information and to each other.

Bridget Smyth, Children’s Services Manager of the Family first Service, said: “This new National Lottery funding is fantastic and will help us to continue to make a difference in the lives of families whose children have an acquired brain injury (ABI). In the 5 years since its commencement, we have worked with over 70 families. Feedback from families has identified not only a positive impact for the child in terms of their overall wellbeing but the positive impact on the family as a whole.”

Mary Peoples, whose son Peadar Pio, has been receiving support from the Family First service for the last year.  She said: “In July 2018 our lives changed when our 10 year old son, Peadar Pio, fell from a trampoline and required life-saving brain surgery. The following few months were lonely and frustrating for the family. Peadar Pio’s OT contacted Brain Injury Matters and we have been so lucky to be receiving support from Catherine since January 2019.

“Catherine provides a safe environment for Peadar Pio and us to discuss our worries and fears and she helps us understand the effects of an Acquired Brain Injury. She has given Peadar Pio coping mechanisms which will benefit him throughout his life.

“The positive impact that BIM has had on our lives is immeasurable and we are so grateful to everyone involved; so much so that we have organised a number of fundraising events in our local area to support the work of Brain Injury Matters; including a cinema night and most recently the male staff of Gaelcholáiste Dhore took part in Movember and raised just under £1,000.”

For more information on the Family First Service contact Bridget Smyth at bridget@braininjurymatters.org.uk or 02890705125 or visit www.braininjurymatters.org.uk

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