Story by Alan Hewitt
Last April l moved to Pitsmoor when l retired from work at Connect, the communication disability charity in London. I have aphasia – or to call it by its proper name, dysphasia. It’s a lifetime language disability, caused by a stroke or brain injury to the left side of the brain. I had an
aneurysm – a brain haemorrhage – 24 years ago. When I woke up from the operation I couldn’t move my right arm and leg. Worst of all, l couldn’t speak for two years. My language was totally messed up. My social “network” fell apart. Now I can type out this article, but I have haemiplegia on my right side (it doesn’t work properly) so l can’t, for instance, write my name. Gradually, over the years, I have got about 50% of my language back. But it’s a hard road. Last year Connect, which worked with people with aphasia, set up a Sheffield drop-in – a place to go where people can go and feel safe to communicate among themselves.
In autumn of last year the Sheffield drop-in was launched by the Mayor of Sheffield, Talib Hussain, a councillor for Burngreave. 50 people with aphasia turned up for the launch. Connect sadly is no more, but the Sheffield drop-in goes on! It is run by people with aphasia for people
with aphasia. Anyone with aphasia, and their spouses, carers and friends can come along. A third of people who have a stroke will get aphasia. In the UK there are upwards of 350,000 people with aphasia, who have difficulty in speaking, language, writing, reading, memory, paralysis,
haemiplegia and comprehension. About 20,000-50,000 per year develop aphasia. Each person with aphasia can have any of these difficulties, in any order. In some cases, it’s an invisible disability. As a person with aphasia l sit on the Sheffield Life-long Stroke NHS Clinical Commissioning Group committee and on the Stroke Association’s Life after Stroke centre planning group.
The drop-in is held twice a month in Shirecliffe Community Centre, Shirecliffe Road S5 8XJ from 1.30 to 3.30pm. For details you can contact me – my telephone number is 07490 188 879, and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org