Over the last 13 years I am proud that the Acquired Brain Injury Forum for London (ABIL) has become an important part of the brain injury landscape in London and the quarterly conferences a firm fixture in diaries for health and social care professionals, brain injury survivors, families and friends. 

The aims of ABIL are: to raise awareness of Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) across London; to encourage the development and dissemination of good practice; and to campaign for better services for ABI survivors and their families and carers across London.

ABIL is affiliated to UKABIF and below is a short history of how it began, who was involved and what we have done.

Origins

The two main activists responsible for establishing ABIL were Richard Morrison (at that time Chair of Headway East London) and Geeta Nayar (Solicitor at Irwin Mitchell).

The first steering group meeting was held in December 2006 – the members included – in addition to Richard and Geeta – Patti Simonson, Catherine Symington (then at Blackheath – FSHC), Kate Woodward-Nutt, Annie Clacey and Norman Keen.

The inaugural conference and launch was on 12 March 2007. The main speakers were Dr. Richard Greenwood and – as keynote speaker – Professor Sir Graham Teasdale – neurosurgeon and co-developer of the Glasgow Coma Scale . His talk was entitled ‘Early & Late Consequences of Head Injury’.

Conferences and Presenters

With ongoing support from Irwin Mitchell, ABIL continues to provide FREE quarterly half-day conferences a year on a wide range of brain injury related subjects.

The conferences – which are typically attended by 50-70 + people, provide in addition to the information conveyed by the presenters, an excellent opportunity for networking.

Our speakers have usually been from London and the surrounding areas, although a notable exception was Jocelyn Harpur from the Community Brain Injury Service in Down Lisburn Northern Ireland, who spoke in 2008 about how her  service had reorganised itself to provide improved and faster access to the Community Brain Injury Service – ‘Acquired Brain Injury; A Perspective from Northern Ireland’, where health and social care are integrated. Now there’s a novel idea!

Websitehttps://www.abil.co.uk/

We have an informative and frequently updated website and where permission has been granted, are able to make conference presentations available.

Twitter – @Abilforum

We actively tweet have an informative and frequently updated website and where permission has been granted, are able to make conference presentations available.

ABIL chairs & executive committee

ABIL has had a number of Chairs – Richard Morrison, Steve Winter (Titleworth), Norman Keen (Vice Chair, Headway East London), Dr Anita Rose (Raphael Medical Centre), and Tony Hart (Headway SELNWK). The current Executive Committee is shown at https://www.abil.co.uk/the-abil-committee/.

Membership

ABIL currently has over 500 members on its mailing list and is FREE to join. As previously stated, our conferences are FREE to attend, however places must be reserved in advance. In the event of a conference being over subscribed, members will always take precedence over non members.

All-Party Parliamentary Group, consultations and major Art Exhibition at St Paul’s Cathedral

During the last 13 years ABIL has responded to a number of consultations – see https://www.abil.co.uk/abil-response-to-consultations/ – and used its influence to lobby in some cases where it felt the system was not doing what it should.

ABIL are active supporters of the wonderful work undertaken by UKABIF and The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Acquired Brain Injury, which is chaired by Chris Bryant MP. The excellent ‘Time for Change’ report is hugely important.

In 2015, ABIL held a major Art Exhibition at St Paul’s Cathedral to show the art work of a number of brain injury survivors from across London, and in doing so, raise awareness of brain injury (see https://www.abil.co.uk/news-3 )

Acknowledgements

None of this would have been possible without the wonderful support of Irwin Mitchell and on behalf of ABIL I would like to express our thanks and appreciation for all they do to enable ABIL to be so successful.

Thank you also to past and present Executive Committee members for all their work and commitment in making it possible for ABIL to continue its excellent work.

Thank you to all the wonderful presenters. There are too many to mention here but please check out our website where you can find information about past conferences.

Thank you to everyone who attends our conferences.

We are proud to contribute to the brain injury landscape of London and to bring like minded people together, many of whom have been able to forge associations and working relationships that might otherwise not have happened.

Tony Hart is chair of ABIL and director of strategy and development Headway SELNWK.