A new £350,000 brain injury unit will provide a vital lifeline for survivors and their carers, campaigners have said.
The community-owned facility at Camlough in South Armagh is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.
Run entirely by brain injury survivors and their families, the centre dubbed a “home from home” offers invaluable respite and support services.
Frank Dolaghan, whose son Tony suffered a brain injury when he fell from a cliff in Co Donegal more than 20 years ago, said it could transform lives.
“If you care for someone with a brain injury it can be very stressful and isolating.
“And, the biggest problem for brain injury survivors is also social isolation - they are just sitting at home playing games or watching television.
“We are changing that.”
The new unit provides a permanent space where brain injury survivors can socialise and develop communication skills - enhancing their confidence and aiding reintegration with the community.
Mr Dolaghan, chairman of the Brain Injury Foundation, said: “The centre, named ‘Our House’ by one of our brain injury survivors, is intended to be just that - a place which is welcoming and inclusive, open, homely and comfortable.
“It is full of warmth and positivity. It is a base from which our members can build and maintain linkages with our local community.”
The unit has been built using a National Lottery grant.
Frank Hewitt, the Big Lottery Fund’s Northern Ireland chairman, said: “It’s wonderful to see how the Brain Injury Foundation have transformed this building with funding from the Space and Place programme.
“We are looking forward to seeing the difference the new centre will make to people affected by brain injury and their families.”