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November 21, 2019

Grant amount: £4,000

The Brain Injury Foundation

  • Grant programme: Active Lives
  • Region: Northern Ireland

Towards the 'Open to All' project for brain injury survivors

About the organisation

The Brain Injury Foundation (BIF) is an adult user led charity formed in 2012 supporting brain injured survivors and carers.  We are based in Camlough in the Newry Mourne Council area, we have an outreach service in Portadown in the Armagh Banbridge Council area and a horticulture programme based in Milford outside Armagh.  BIF is governed by a member elected management committee and we employ two fulltime members of staff and buy in the services of facilitators as needed.

Organisation’s objectives

Our objective is to build a community of support for people who share similar challenges associated with brain injury and caring.

Our key aim is addressing social isolation among our members.  We do this through the provision of a health and wellness programme, a leisure and recreational programme, a family support programme and an information service, provided for our survivors and carers within a safe environment.

About the project

‘Open to all’ project

Peter Harrison Foundation’s funding has had a significant impact on brain injury survivors and their carers, providing crucial support that addressed their unique needs through specialised intervention and collaborative partnership. Here’s a detailed look at how the funding has made a difference for these groups:

Need: The lack of available support and services for brain injury survivors and carers in the area was identified through discussions with our members from the surrounding area which also identified what support services members would find beneficial from a physical and mental health wellbeing perspective.

Through the Peter Harrison Foundation we were able to encourage participants to increase their physical activity. This included participation in  horticulture therapy. Also important was access to transport which enables both survivors and carers to engage more fully in social and community activities, reducing isolation, promoting a sense of inclusion, and belonging which contributes to their overall well-being and quality of life.

Interventions: The funding supported a comprehensive programme that included creative and engaging ways for survivors to work on motor skills, cognitive functions and emotional expression. These activities provide a safe environment where members can share experiences, receive emotional support, and develop coping strategies and help to regain independence. Horticulture therapy addresses physical, emotional, and social well-being. It is especially effective for individuals with disabilities, older adults, and those with mental health conditions. Working with plants and gardens promotes physical activity, reduces stress, and enhances social interaction and a sense of accomplishment. Financial support ensured our allotment is accessible to individuals with mobility issues, including raised beds, wheelchair paths.

Partners:  We worked closely with the Cedar Foundation which ensures our members have access to a specialised support service which can enable them to take the skills they have learnt through horticulture and develop that further through possible employment if they have the skills to do so. The Peter Harrison Foundation’s grant also played a crucial role in addressing transport enabling us to partner with the rural community transport in the area to bring our members and to and from our allotments. Transportation can be a significant barrier to accessing services such as medical care, rehabilitation services, therapeutic activities, and social opportunities, especially for individuals with disabilities and their carers. The foundation’s funding helped our members plan their activities and travel without undue stress.

Impact of PHF’s support

The Peter Harrison Foundation’s funding created a robust support system that addressed both physical and emotional needs through innovative therapeutic approaches. Horticulture therapies provide holistic interventions that promote physical activity, healing, skill development, and community integration. By collaborating with partners like the Cedar Foundation, these programmes ensure inclusivity and accessibility which maximises their positive impact on participants.

Impact – Members experienced improved physical health such as increased mobility and strength, improved cognitive benefits such as improved attention, memory and problem solving skills. They designed and installed a water collection system which was in turn used to water the plants inside the polytunnel. The participants’ increased physical  activity contributed to their improved mental health , reducing stress and enhancing wellbeing. In addition, participants experienced reduced isolation due to working together to foster a send of teamwork.

Training: Members were able to receive training in basic gardening techniques, plant care and sustainable practices. Training included how to use horticulture as a therapeutic tool to support physical, cognitive and emotional wellbeing. Members even obtained their OCN level 1 in horticulture through Reconnect, another charity engaged in Brain Injury Support, preparing participants for potential employment in gardening or a related field.

Dissemination and Ongoing Legacy – Information about our programmes and their benefits are shared throughout the community by the Southern Trust’s weekly bulletin service. We continue to document our services in our monthly newsletters, and online social media platforms. The Peter Harrison Foundation helped us to further establish our horticulture programme to continue beyond the initial grant period. We continue deliver a high quality therapeutic services, encouraging physical activity and raising awareness of brain injury.

How does your organisation exemplify PHF’s values?

The Brain Injury Foundation’s work, supported by the Peter Harrison Foundation, exemplifies the values of excellence, entrepreneurship, integrity, and sustainability in several key ways:


  • The Brain Injury Foundation offers a high quality programme of horticulture which adheres to best practices in therapeutic interventions. Our tutors are highly qualified therapists and professionals who ensure our members receive the best possible care and support which is reflected in the positive feedback from our members in a face to face setting or through our annual survey’s outcomes.


  • As a member led organisation, the Brain Injury Foundation continually adapts our programmes to meet the evolving needs of our brain injury survivors and their carers. We are open to adopting innovative approaches that go beyond traditional methods which will enable us to create new opportunities and expand the reach of our current programmes. Our horticulture programme enables our members to grow produce which can be used by our programme through which  we provide a lunch for our members helping to reduce costs.


  • Our transparency practices: The Brain Injury Foundation upholds high ethical standards in all its operations, ensuring transparency and accountability in the use of funds and delivery of services. We are a member led organisation with our members’ wellbeing central to all we do, prioritising the needs and dignity of brain injury survivors, ensuring that their voices are heard and respected in the development and implementation of programmes.  We maintain open and honest communication with stakeholders, including members, donors, and partners.


  • The Brain Injury Foundation designs its programmes with sustainability in mind, ensuring that therapeutic benefits continue beyond the initial funding period. We do this by training staff, carers, and volunteers.  We effectively manage our resources to maintain and grow our programmes, ensuring ongoing support for brain injury survivors and their carers.

By exemplifying these values, the Brain Injury Foundation not only fulfills its mission but also enhances the reputation and impact of the Peter Harrison Foundation’s philanthropic efforts.