The Headway Podcast!

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May 23, 2024
image showing a microphone, sound waves and the wording: The Headway Podcast

Headway Podcast: The beginning  

Headway CEO, Fiona Murphy, launching the podcast in Blackhall Green

The Headway Podcast, launched on 23 May by CEO, Fiona Murphy, is the brainchild of staff member, Shane Fitzgerald. Shane joined Headway as a Community Rehabilitation Officer in only 2023. Despite having lots of experience in the Social Care sector, he was amazed by the depth and complexity of the personal stories he began to hear from the clients with brain injuries he met. For anyone who is not familiar, – a brain injury happens from a sudden change to the brain, often caused by an accident, or an illness, such as a stroke.   

Shane felt strongly that these stories needed to be heard and people’s invisible disabilities, seen. “I saw an opportunity to provide a new platform for sharing clients’ stories and raise awareness about living with brain injury.” With the enthusiastic backing of clients, and his colleague, Rachel Coyle, and Community Rehabilitation Manager, Lyndsay O’Toole, firmly on board, Shane got the green light to start the project in September 2023. Together, they wanted to create a space where individuals and families could find inspiration from stories of resilience, the strategies that work and support that goes beyond a clinical setting.  

For most of the participants (and indeed, staff) this was their first foray into podcasting. 

photo of the Headway Podcast hosts and participants at the launch

The cast and hosts enjoying themselbes at the launch!

Who are the contributors? 

Contributors are drawn from a range of services within Headway. All contributors are living with an acquired brain injury and taking part in Headway’s community-based rehabilitative programmes. These programmes have amongst their goals, rebuilding confidence and strengthening life skills. 

One participant, Josephine Gilchrist, said:

“I’m proud to support Headway through this podcast. The organisation needs to be recognised for the life-changing work staff do. They have transformed my life for the better.” 

Josephine Gilchrist

The clients involved in the podcast have diverse backgrounds, ages and life experiences. Amongst them are teachers, nurses, a college lecturer, a barrister and a professional boxer, to name a few. What they have in common is an understanding of what it takes to live life after a brain injury. They also have a desire to share their experiences, advice and knowledge with others who on their own recovery journey.  

As you will hear, the participants acquired their brain injuries through a variety of causes such as stroke, heart attack, assault, sports incidents, accidents, encephalitis, Stroke-like Migraine Attacks after Radiation Therapy (SMART) Syndrome (an extremely rare condition) and cavernoma.  

The cast of Episode 1 and hosts at the Blackhall Green launch

The goals of the Headway Podcast  

One of the goals of the project was to make the invisible disabilities caused by brain injury, more visible and raise awareness about what it’s like living with one. Peter Maybury, who contributed to three episodes, told us:  

“I am honoured to be involved in this podcast. Our invisible, unique disability needs more awareness. This is exactly what the public, and anyone affected by brain injury – whether directly, or as a family member or carer, needs to hear.” 

Peter Maybury

The second goal was to provide support, ideas and resources to those affected:  

Brain injury can be a life altering event, that affects not just the person with the injury, but many people around them – family, colleagues and friends. We hope that this series will help everyone affected to meet the challenges they face with confidence and a feeling of resilience.”

Shane Fitzgerald and Rachel Coyle,
Headway staff members and podcast hosts

Brain injury can be a life altering event, that affects not just the person with the injury, but many people around them – family, colleagues and friends. We hope that this series will help everyone affected to meet the challenges they face with confidence and a feeling of resilience.” Shane and Rachel.  

Turning an idea into a podcast 

Shane, Rachel and the clients did a great deal of groundwork before the recording itself could begin. This involved initial sessions to define the vision and scope of the podcast; also, workshops on storytelling and technical skills to prepare for the recording process; discussing ethical considerations and procedures with Headway management; and finally, brainstorming sessions to develop episode topics. This led to invites to particular participants to guest on specific episodes based on their experiences and expertise. 

Shane spent many hours viewing online tutorials on sound editing before securing Headway funds to purchase the required editing software. The team also bought high quality headphones and microphones to ensure they could achieve a professional standard of recording.  

group of participants recording a Headway podcast episode!
The team recording Episode 1 of the Headway Podcast: left to right: contributors Peter Maybury, and Josephine Gilchrist, Shane Fitzgerald (host), followed by other contributors Seamus Carroll and Mary Mangan. 

Finally, the recording sessions could begin in January 2024. Shane managed the editing process, while Rachel liaised closely with each client featured and their manager, Lyndsay, to make sure that the final edit was to everyone’s satisfaction. Shane’s creative talents didn’t end there! He volunteered his time and skills to create a visual identity for the project in the form of posters and the graphic you see at the start of this article.  

The episodes 

Episode One is now live online here (see below for other places to listen). Each episode has a different theme. Topics are wide-ranging and include: coping mechanisms, the psychological aspects of recovery, rehabilitation insights, support systems, personal triumphs, how to adapt and become resilient, practical strategies for fatigue, dealing with emotions and keeping relationships strong. All these are brought to you by individuals living with a brain injury who have a diverse range of perspectives on life.  

Further episodes will be posted weekly and there is already another recording session scheduled with a client from Headway’s services in the Cork region, further expanding the project’s reach and participant base.  

Participant, Peter Kavanagh, expressed his feelings about the podcast going live:  

“I’m so happy to be part of this amazing project. I wish I’d had access to such a valuable resource in the early stages of my recovery.” 

Peter Kavanagh

Reflections and plans for the future 

For the two Headway staff members, Shane and Rachel, the project has been impactful. They hope that it will be just as impactful for listeners. Shane told us: “Creating this podcast has been such an incredibly rewarding experience. We started this piece of work because we believe in the power of storytelling and shared experiences. Seeing it coming alive and witnessing the positive impact it has had already, has been immensely gratifying.  

I’d like to extend a special thank you to the participants who generously shared their stories. Their contributions are the heartbeat of this podcast.” 

Rachel added: “This has been an such a fulfilling, and inspiring, journey for me. Each story shared has left an indelible mark, serving as a reminder of the human capacity to overcome challenges. I am truly honoured to play a role in amplifying the clients’ voices, knowing that through this platform, their stories will reach a wider audience and foster understanding, empathy, and connection.” 

The final word goes to Linda Rooney, attending Headway in Dublin after developing a condition called frontal lobe atrophy. She says:

“I wish this podcast had been available when I experienced my injury. I believe it will be a tremendous support for many people, providing comfort and guidance during their recovery.” 

Linda Rooney

Participant, Linda Rooney, speaking at the launch

Where to listen 

We will release new Podcast episodes online every Thursday, starting 23rd of May, until October. Just follow this link to listen:  

You can also listen on the these podcast platforms: 

Search for the ‘Headway Podcast’ in your preferred app on your phone.
You can also follow this link and tap on the app icon you want.

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