A CHARITY that supports individuals who have a brain injury, or stroke, is continuing its hard work through lockdown with a meals on wheels service.

NeuroActiveUK helps those who have suffered a brain injury to maintain independence, build confidence and reduce social isolation through therapies and activities.

The charity was started by Debbie Mitchell and her husband Gary, as it is something that is close to both their hearts.

The inspiration for this was Mrs Mitchell’s brother-in-law Jimmy Gustard who suffered a brain injury

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They founded County Durham Activity Unit after finding there was no support for Mr Gustard.

The late Mr Gustard started as a volunteer ‘meeter and greeter' in the unit. He was the voice of the Chester-le-Street unit, and helped build it into something its members are proud of.

It was in 2018 when the group put therapies in place that range from: Specialist Neuro Physio, Massage Therapy Counselling, Music Therapy, Specialist Trainers and Independent living skills.

The group became an official charity in 2019 and their name changed from County Durham Activity Day Unit to NeuroActiveUK in March of 2020.

In May they were approached by local Councillors and given funding from the local Area Action Partnership to supply free meals to vulnerable people affected by Covid-19.

The meals on wheels service and the free packed lunches provided to children in the school holidays, have continued and proved popular during lockdown.

Following this the charity has continued to go from strength to strength.

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Mrs Mitchell said: “We are so lucky and proud that we are supported by a fantastic team from all walks of life.

"Our unit is one of a kind and an absolutely amazing place to be a part of, we are unique in every way because of them and their experiences in life.”

Sadly the charity’s inspiration, Mr Gustard passed away on June 24, aged 56.

NeuroActiveUK continue to work hard and provide a service which honours his legacy.

Both staff and volunteers of the charity are committed and care about all those who access the service and their carers who are also involved.

The service operates every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at Ouston Community Centre, Chester-le-Street.

Clair Johnston, who works as an NLP master practitioner for the service, said: “Thanks to the work done by the charity, people have gone from hardly walking to actually being able to walk with a frame.

“I work with the mental health side of things to help people cope with day-to-day life.

“One gentleman suffers with stress and panic attacks due to being blind, so as a therapist I give him the skills to cope outside of the community centre.”

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