Stay at home as much as possible

Coronavirus: All on-site work by The Brain Charity at The Walton Centre and Aintree Hospital is now on hold until further notice. Staff will be working from home, to contact them, please send us an email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Walton Neurological Centre is a world-class hospital in Merseyside. If you are visiting the hospital as an outpatient, or if you are staying there for treatment, in normal times The Brain Charity has staff on-site who can offer you practical help, information and emotional support if you need it.

The Walton Centre has its own Nurse Advice Line as well for patients under its care: call 0151 556 4008. The line is available between 9am and 4pm.

Our Information Pod

In normal times, The Brain Charity's Information and Advice Officers attend the wards every day to speak to people who may need some support. They also attend clinics, and are available for families, friends and carers in our 'pod', which is located opposite the main check-in desks and the new Self-Check-In.

In normal times, The Pod is staffed Monday to Friday, 9.00-5.00. You can phone the Pod on 0151 529 8383. But due to Covid-19, this is on hold until further notice.

Getting to The Walton Centre

The Walton Centre is on the same site as Aintree University Hospital (sometimes called Fazakerley Hospital), over the road from Fazakerley train station. The Centre's main building is located on Lower Lane, Liverpool L9 7LJ.
Scroll down below the map for more details for travelling by train, bus or car.

By train

Fazakerley train station is a Northern Line station with regular connections to central Liverpool. Fazakerley Station faces the Longmoor Lane entrance to The Walton Centre.

By bus

The following bus routes travel close to the hospital with stops in Lower Lane and Longmoor Lane: 1, 2, 3, 17c, 17d, 18c, 20, 62, 92, 121, 122, 134, 159, 209, 217, 218, 236, 356. The 102 bus travels into the main hospital. 

For up to date information please contact Merseytravel on 0151 236 7676.

By road

The Walton Centre is easily accessible via the M6 and the M62.

  • M6 Southbound: Leave the motorway at J26 (signposted Skelmersdale) and join the M58. Leave the M58 at its end and at the roundabout take the first exit onto M57. Leave at J6. Turn right at roundabout onto A506. Follow for 1.5 miles and at the traffic lights turn left onto Lower Lane. The entrance to The Walton Centre is on the right.
  • M6 Northbound and M62: Leave the M6 at J23 (Haydock). Travel for more than 5 miles along East Lancashire Road. Turn right at lights just past the Showcase Cinema, onto Lower Lane. The Walton Centre is on the left.
  • West via the A580: Travel along the A580, passing under the M57; continue for a further one mile and take the third turning right onto Lower Lane. The entrance to The Walton Centre is on the left.

The Walton Centre manages two car park areas which are directly outside and to the right of the main building main entrance. All other car parks on-site are managed and controlled by Aintree University Hospital.

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A number of people affected by a neurological condition may feel socially isolated and lack somebody to talk to. The Brain Charity can offer a befriending service to support people by lending an ear and helping them to be a more active part of their community.

Our volunteer befrienders are reliable, good listeners and are able to help empower people to gain new experiences.

If you feel that you would benefit from this service you can contact us for more information This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 0151 298 2999.


  Putting myself forward for counselling was something I never ever thought I would do, but my counsellor was so easy to talk with purple quotation mark right close - Brenda 

counselling at The Brain Charity 2 Our team of counsellors provide a range of counselling and psychotherapy, including CBT and other forms of psychotherapy. Your counsellor works with you as an individual, using both short-term and longer-term therapy to meet your individual needs.

Your counsellor provides you with a safe 'space' where you can talk about your problems and feelings. You and your counsellor work together to understand and address your problems. Everything you and your counsellor say stays confidential.

Who is counselling for?

We provide support to people with a neurological condition. Neurological conditions can have a wide-ranging effect on health, not just your physical health but your mental health as well.

We work with a wide range of issues affecting mental health, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, phobias, and bereavement, along with a whole range of issues which people with neurological conditions may experience.

We also offer counselling therapy to people who care for someone with a neurological condition.

Is it only one-to-one counselling?

As well as one-to-one counselling, we can work with couples and families, and provide group therapy.

Contact us

Our counselling service runs Monday-Friday and individuals can self-refer by contacting our information team on 0800 008 6417 or emailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. The counselling service is very much in demand, so waiting times for an initial telephone assessment can vary. We make every effort to respond to your enquires as soon as we can.

Community Fund

We are extremely grateful to the The National Lottery Community Fund for supporting our vital and completely free counselling service by distributing Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport cash to charities like us as part of the Coronavirus Community Support Fund.

The money we’ve received has allowed us to support 50 extra clients to get the therapy and support they need for six more months.

'Love'. Artwork by Love Artuk outside the entrance to The Brain CharityNeed someone to talk to? You can turn to us.

Being diagnosed with or affected by a neurological condition can be a frightening and bewildering experience.

It can impact greatly on your emotional wellbeing as well as your physical health.

And, as a family member, carer or friend, it can be just as hard watching someone you care about going through such a difficult time.

At The Brain Charity we offer a range of services which are designed to support you to come to terms with your condition and help you to cope with some of the difficult emotions you may be going through.

To find out more about our emotional wellbeing services, click on the links below:

Photo of artwork by Love Artuk outside the entrance to The Brain Charity

Coronavirus: All centre-based group activities organised and run by the The Brain Charity will cease until further notice. And now: Our coffee mornings have moved online! They are on the first and third Monday of the month. Please contact us if you want to join in.

Lots of groups meet at The Brain Charity, as you can see below. Support groups offer a way for people affected by a condition to share experiences and gain an understanding of how a condition can affect others. Support groups are a great way of meeting new people and learning new coping strategies to help through illness to recovery.

It can be daunting to join a new group at first but everybody in that group will understand how it feels to be the new person so you can be sure of a warm welcome.

Join us in our café, meet new friends and old.

Support groups currently meeting at The Brain Charity
Which condition?Which group?When?


Stroke Friends: Aphasia Support Group Mondays 2 - 4pm weekly, in café area
Ataxia Ataxia NW Support Group First Saturday of each month
Brain Tumour The Brain Tumour Charity Liverpool Support Group Final Monday of each month, 1 - 3pm
Cavernoma Cavernoma Alliance Quarterly
Dystonia Dystonia Support Group Saturdays
Epilepsy Epilepsy Action Coffee and chat, final Thursday of the month, 11am - 1pm
Facial Palsy Facial Palsy UK Cheshire & Mersey Support Group Bi-monthly meetings; 10.00-12.00
Fronto-temporal dementia Fronto-temporal Dementia Support Quarterly, check support group's website
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder  OCD-UK Liverpool support group First Wednesday of each month, 5-7pm
Parkinson's Central Liverpool Parkinson's U.K. Support Group First Friday of each month, 1 - 4pm
Spinal Injury Merseyside Spinal Injuries Association Group First Wednesday of each month, 3.00 - 5.00pm
 Tuberous Sclerosis Tuberous Sclerosis Association Northwest Regional Group Phone us to check when


These three groups below meet informally at the Coffee Morning on the first Monday of the month

Ataxia NW Support Group

Brain Haemorrhage Brain Haemorrhage Support Group
Tremor Essential Tremor Support Group


Tea, Coffee and Company First Monday of each month, 10.30am - noon


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These free 'apps' (software) can be downloaded to your smart phone for 'brain training', for keeping yourself healthy, and getting support. All helping to keep your brain healthy!

What is BrainHQ? from BrainHQ by Posit Science on Vimeo.

  • RecordMeNow: is a free legacy app with which people may record video interviews on personal subjects to leave as a legacy for their loved ones.
  • Pzizz: effective psycho-acoustic principles create beautiful dreamscapes that will help you fall asleep fast, stay asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed
  • FoodSwitch: helps you find out what’s in the food you’re eating, so you can make simple switches to healthier options (Action On Salt)
  • NHS Health Check:  Health and fitness trackers and apps
  • Rally Round: form an online support group of family members and trusted friends.
  • DIMEC: order your NHS repeat prescriptions
  • First Aid apps: how to help someone in a first aid emergency (British Red Cross)
  • SOS QR: allows anyone to easily create an emergency record on their smartphone, and features one-touch SOS button to alert your emergency contacts
  • What3words
    Now you only need three words to quickly refer to any exact location – an apartment entrance, station exit, picnic spot or parking space. Police have urged everyone to download this free app app they say has already saved lives
  • Elefriends (Mind charity): We all know what it’s like to struggle sometimes, but now there’s a safe place to listen, share and be heard.


> more brain resources

brainThe library and information centre at The Brain Charity includes information on more than a hundred neurological conditions. Here are details of just eight of our books:

> more brain resources

Image: Healthy adult human brain viewed from the side, tractography; Credit: Henrietta Howells, NatBrainLab
Free to use with attribution CC BY

Collage of mixed fruit and vegetables

Eating a healthy diet is not just good for your waistline, it's good for your brain too! So make sure you eat your 'Five a Day' of fruit and vegetables. And you can still eat well on a budget.

At The Brain Charity's centre in Liverpool we even have our own Brain Food Café.

Seven of the best brain foods

Oily fish

Fish such as salmon, herring, and sardines are a very good source of Omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are essential for the development and maintainance of the brain. Omega-3 has been shown to help ward off dementia, and as well as that, Omega-3 fatty acids can help with depression, and reduce the risk of diabetes. Our bodies can't make their own Omega-3, so you have to make sure good sources are part of your diet.

Veggie sources of Omega-3

For vegetarians and vegans, alternatives to fish include walnuts, rapeseed oil and linseed oil, and soya-based food.

Nut allergies

If you have a nut allergy, then avocados are great to eat for your healthy fatty acids.

Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are another good source of the healthy fat Omega-3, and they are good for vitamins and minerals too. This can all help with reducing blood pressure and improving your sleep, both of which are important for your brain.


Blueberries are great for vitamins, and for antioxidants which are good for your heart - and therefore good for your brain. Blueberries have been shown to be good for your memory too.


Avocados are high in healthy, unsaturated fat which helps with healthy blood flow and lowers blood pressure, and are a good source of vitamins and minerals. They even include a type of healthy fatty acid that is good for your nervous system. You might have to keep an eye on the extra calories, but avocados are great.

Dark chocolate

Great news: chocolate can be good for you! Dark chocolate is best. Chocolate includes anti-oxidants, it can help reduce blood pressure, and it can reduce inflammation. Chocolate is another good superfood for your memory too. But don't forget to watch out for sugar and those extra calories.


More good news: moderate drinking – no more than one glass of wine a day – has been linked to better brain health. Wine acts as a natural blood thinner, breaking blood clots that could lead to a stroke.

Brussels sprouts

Leafy green vegetables are one of the best sources of nutrition for the brain because they are packed with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that protect and promote brain functions. Some good examples: spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.

> more brain resources

Image: Collage of mixed fruits and vegetables, MRI. Credit: Alexandr Khrapichev, University of Oxford
Free to use with attribution: CC BY

brainBrain games

Sharpen your mind by playing fun games!


This ancient board game improves memory, concentration, and problem-solving skills.
You can play chess online or get a chess app on your smart phone.


This is not just a word game, it uses different areas of your brain as well, making your brain more flexible!
You can play Scrabble online as well using Facebook.


Playing Monopoly enhances mathemetical and linguistic skills -  not to mention strategy skills.
There is even a special Roald Dahl version of this board game.

Brain training

"Brain games are something that you do for fun, and is like going out to play ... Brain training, on the other hand, is more like going to the gym. It’s a system of exercising the brain to improve aspects of cognition like memory, attention, focus, and brain speed." Dr Michael Merzenich (BrainHQ)

You can try brain training online for free at BrainHQ

> more brain resources

Image: Neuroepithelium, the developing brain. Credit: Prof. Bill Harris.
Free to use with attribution: CC BY

brainPodcasts are sound files you can download or listen to online. All of these podcasts have transcripts or captions as an alternative for reading.

> more brain resources

Photo:  'Healthy adult human brain viewed from above, MRI' by Dr Flavio Dell'Acqua.
Credit: Dr Flavio Dell'Acqua. CC BY

Coughs and sneezes spread FLU and diseases: Trap the germs in your handkerchief.Use your brain. We should all follow the guidelines for the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Everyone should stay at home as much as possible to help stop the spread of coronavirus

Wash your hands as soon as you get back home: wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds


Hand hygiene video, Barts Health NHS Trust

Why you should practice social distancing to stop coronavirus (The Telegraph)

NHS nurses sing Corona Covid 19 song

How to draw a rainbow / painting (Dad draws)

> more brain resources

Image: top left The use of handkerchiefs to prevent against flu and other diseases. Lithograph, ca. 1950. Credit: Wellcome Collection.
Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) terms and conditions 

lateral view of the human brain

The human brain is the most complex thing in the known universe! But here we have collected together information sources about your brain, and about how to keep your brain healthy. This includes links to advice about diet and exercise - your brain needs you to keep your body healthy.

The books we've listed are available to borrow if you visit our library, and all these other multi-media resources are available for free online:

  • Books: available from our library in Liverpool, with details of where else you can find them.
  • Videos: you can watch online, with optional subtitles.
  • Podcasts: you can download or listen online, or read transcripts.

Image: Lateral view of the human brain, 1873; Credit: Wellcome Collection.
Free to use with attribution: CC BY

You can watch these five videos here. Or if you click on the links to YouTube, you can choose to watch them full-screen, with closed captions or subtitles.

An animated tour around the human brain, created by the University of Bristol for Brain Awareness Week

Neurologist Tim Rittman explores the brain and how is works (Alzheimer's Research UK)

Different types of head injury and possible after-effects (Brain & Spine Foundation)

What Dr Jill Bolte Taylor learned after her stroke (AARP)

Neuroscientist Dr Michael Merzenich looks at plasticity, the brain's power to change itself (BrainHQ)

> more brain resources

liverpoolcitycouncilThe Brain Charity delivers the Carers Advocacy service for residents who live within the boundaries of Liverpool City Council.

What is a carer?

Broadly a carer is

"somebody who provides support or who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their age, physical or mental illness, or disability. This would not usually include someone paid or employed to carry out that role, or someone who is a volunteer"

- Care Act, 2014

An individual might need to care for someone from birth because of an condition they have such as cerebral palsy or Down's syndrome. Or, they may need to begin to start to care for someone suddenly, for instance if someone close to them has had a stroke or a brain haemorrhage. It can also be the case that a person becomes a carer more gradually because the person they care for has a condition that worsens over time. There are many definitions of what it means to be a carer, but essentially it is about looking after someone who needs help with daily living. If you are unsure if you or someone you know could be classed as a carer we can help you to work this out.

What is Advocacy?

"Advocacy is taking action to help people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain services they need. Advocates and advocacy schemes work in partnership with the people they support and take their side. Advocacy promotes social inclusion, equality and social justice."

- The Care Forum

The Brain Charity Carers Advocacy service offers free, independent, professional support for adult carers. Advocates are available to assist carers to access a range of personalised services to support them in their role and to help the people that they care for remain independent and within their own homes and communities.

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The type of things that a carer may need support with are based around three main categories:

Health, Wellbeing and Home Life:

Advocates can support carers to:

  • Look at ways to possibly reduce the hours of care that they currently provide.
  • Get more information about the condition of the person they care for.
  • Spend time doing things they value and enjoy or getting time to themselves.
  • Maintain relationships with others and balance other social responsibilities such as family commitments with caring.
  • Improve their physical and / or mental health and well-being.
  • Develop a plan for emergency situations.
  • Have peace of mind.
  • Find people they can talk to and discuss their feelings honestly.
  • Keep the house and garden clean and tidy.
  • Stay safe and warm in their home.
  • Find suitable equipment / adaptations to help them to carry out their caring role safely.

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Employment, Education and Finance:

Advocates can help carers to:

  • Find employment, education or training.
  • Balance current employment, education or training with caring.
  • Get benefits advice or help to manage finances.


Advocates can help carers to:

  • Participate or get involved in improving services.

How we can help

Advocates can help carers to:

  • Prepare for meetings, hearings, etc.
  • Represent carers at hearings, meetings, etc. at the request of the carer.
  • Represent the carer by agreement and / or speak on their behalf at health, legal, etc. appointments;
  • Support the carers’ autonomy and self-determination by information giving, clarification, signposting, explanation of options and supporting decision making;
  • Give information and promote involvement in services and decisions affecting the carers’ life by supporting them to network and lobby, and to represent their own views, wishes, feelings and aspirations to regional bodies, government bodies, research institutions, etc.

Carers can access the Carers Advocacy service by contacting our information and advice team on 0800 008 6417 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Help for carers

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liverpoolcitycouncilThe Brain Charity delivers the Carers Advocacy service for residents who live within the boundaries of Liverpool City Council.

Read about: Advocacy SupportCare needs and helpNeeds AssessmentCarers AllowanceLinks

What is a Carer's Assessment?

A carer's assessment is an opportunity for you to discuss your caring role with your local City Council. The assessment will look at what it means for you to be a carer, how this affects your life and what support you may need to help you to continue caring for your loved one.

Who can have a Carer’s Assessment?

Anybody over the age of 18 who looks after someone who is disabled, ill or elderly and needs support can have a carers assessment.

How do I get a Carer's Assessment?

All carers should be offered a carers assessment from the Adult Social Services department of the local Council where the person you are looking after lives.

What will they ask me?

They will ask you questions to try to understand what parts of your life are affected by your caring role. They will look at how much help you give and time you spend looking after your loved one. They will ask about your health, work, housing situation and how you feel about your caring role.

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I don’t feel confident dealing with this alone can I have advocacy support?

Yes you can. The council must provide you with an independent advocate to assist you in the assessment process (and after) if:

  • without support you would have 'substantial difficulty' in communicating your wishes, or understanding, retaining and assessing information during the assessment and
  • there is no other appropriate person who is able and willing to help you.

How will the Council decide if I am eligible for help?

The Care Act introduces national rules for deciding who is eligible for care and support. But it will still be for local councils to make the decision about whether or not your needs meet the rules and so whether you have what the law calls eligible needs.

You will meet the eligibility criteria if there is likely to be a significant impact on your wellbeing as a result of you caring for another person. There are three questions the council will have to consider in making their decision:

  • Are your needs the result of you providing necessary care?
  • Does your caring role have an effect on you?
  • Is there, or is there likely to be, a significant impact on your wellbeing?

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What things can I get help with?

You may get help with things such as:

  • technology to support you: mobile phone, computer where it is not possible to access computer services from a local library.
  • help with housework or gardening.
  • help to relieve stress, improve health and promote wellbeing such as gym membership.

Some examples of the kind of help that could be available to the person you care for, in order to help you as a carer:

  • Changes to the disabled person’s home to make it more suitable and equipment such as a hoist or grab rail.
  • Funding for a care worker to help provide personal care at home.
  • a temporary stay in residential care/respite care.
  • meals delivered to the disabled person’s home.
  • a place at a day centre.
  • assistance with travel, for example to get to a day centre.
  • laundry services.
  • replacement care so you can have a break.

What is a Needs Assessment?

Needs assessments are for adults (18 years of age or over) who may need help because of a disability, ill health or old age. A needs assessment looks at the range of help a person needs.

The focus of a needs assessment is the person you are looking after but in most cases the role and views of the carer will also be taken into account during the assessment.

A needs assessment will look at:

  • The personal care needs of the person you are looking after and their thoughts on how that care should be provided.
  • If there is a risk to their independence and wellbeing if their needs are not met. For instance, is there a risk of falling or leaving the gas cooker on?
  • If there is a carer, such as a partner, family member or friend, the carer's views on the care needed, including the level of care they are willing and able to provide.

How do I get a Needs Assessment?

It is the responsibility of the Adult Social Services department of the local Council to provide a needs assessment.

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What is Carer's Allowance?

Carers Allowance is the main benefit for carers.

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Can I claim Carer's Allowance?

Not every carer can get Carer’s Allowance. You may be able to claim it if you meet all the following conditions:

  • You look after someone who gets a qualifying disability benefit.
  • You look after that person for at least 35 hours a week.
  • You are aged 16 or over
  • You are not in full-time education
  • You earn £110 a week (after deductions) or less
  • You satisfy UK residence and presence conditions

How do I make a claim?

You can contact the Department of Work and Pensions for more information on how to make a claim.

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Support for carers in Liverpool:


Parent Carers (children & young People under 18)

Advocacy for person in receipt of care

Help for carers

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Coronavirus: Temporary carer’s allowance easements in response to cv-19 outbreak (Disability Rights UK)

A carer is someone who cares for a family member or friend who needs help with everyday living. The carer is not paid for doing this.

As a carer, you have rights under the Care Act of 2014. You may be entitled to claim a benefit called Carer's Allowance.

A carer who needs support to carry out their role as a carer can ask for their own assessment by the local council. This Carer's Needs Assessment is specifically about the carer's needs - and is not about those of the person they care for:

Contact the social services department of the council covering the area where the person you care for lives, and ask for a needs assessment.

More advice and support

  • Carers UK
    Charity giving carers information, advice and support
    • Find your local support
  • Carers Trust
    Charity for, with, and about carers
  • Carers Direct
    Free helpline for carers on 0300 123 1053 (Mon-Fri 9am-8pm; Sat and Sun 11am-4pm). You can ask for a translator.
    You can also get help by email.

More information

Visit our library to read our copy of the Disability Rights UK booklet Your Guide to the Care Act: What you need to know about social care in England.


Help for carers


Supported by B.B.C. Children in Need. Registered charity. The Brain Changer Arts Project

Thanks to generous funding from BBC Children in Need, The Brain Charity has launched The Brain Changer Arts Project - free workshops that harness the power of the arts to help hundreds of young people with neurological conditions.

The fun, innovative and rewarding sessions, which are currently running as online video classes, provide Physiotherapy through Dance and Occupational Therapy through Art and Craft.

More at The Brain Charity

Other support


PIP is a benefit payable to individuals with long-term health conditions that are expected to affect them for at least 50% of the time for at least 12 months - 3 months prior to applying and 9 months ahead of application. Your condition must affect your ability to undertake activities associated with daily living (preparing meals, bathing, communicating etc) and mobility (walking/planning and following journeys).

PIP is not a 'live-on' benefit - it is a supplement designed to cover the costs incurred as a result of having a disability/health condition. Your main source of income should be either earned income from work/pensions, benefits (Job Seekers Allowance or Universal Credit/Employment Support Allowance), or a combination of the above.

You can work and claim PIP as it is not means-tested. It also is not affected by any savings or capital you might have.

Your eligibility to claim PIP is assessed via a points system which you can download/view on the Citizens Advice Bureau website.

  • We have a detailed guide to Cluster Headaches and PIP which you can download here in full as a Word or PDF document.
  • We also have information about Cluster Headaches in our A-Z of Neurological Conditions.

Assessment process

You begin the process by calling the PIP claim line on 0800 917 2222.

Before you call, you’ll need:

  • your contact details, for example telephone number;
  • your date of birth
  • your National Insurance number - this is on letters about tax, pensions and benefits;
  • your bank or building society account number and sort code;
  • your doctor or health worker’s name, address and telephone number;
  • dates and addresses for any time you’ve spent abroad, in a care home or in hospital

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Top Tips

  • Make a 'Headache Diary'. This is the best way to provide good quality insight into how much of your time is spent managing an attack or the effects of an attack. There is a sample you can copy from our guide.
  • If the form asks about your ability to do something and you are not able to do so without symptoms of your condition causing problems, do not say that you can. Just answer "No" and explain the reasons why you cannot do so reliably as required.
  • If you cannot reliably do something - for example, you sometimes shower alone but more often than not you are unable to do so due to how severe, unpredictable and debilitating your attacks are, then your answer should be "No". Again, explain why - for example "No I cannot wash independently as I cannot do so repeatedly as often as required".
  • Consider whether you would be safer if you had another person to help you with tasks. We meet a lot of people who manage elements of their care alone - for example, cooking and dressing - despite being relatively unsafe to do so. The PIP process is not about just looking at the care you get, it’s about the care you think you need and should get, to complete activities reliably as stated above. If you cook alone every day but feel that you are actually putting yourself in danger by doing so, make this clear in your answer and state the reasons why you would be unsafe.
  • Refer to your cluster headaches as ‘cluster attacks’ - this helps avoid confusion with migraine or other headache conditions.

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More about PIP

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We reached the top of Mount Snowdon!

Check our online Events Calendar for our next Confidence Building course.

Most people come along to our Confidence Building Courses to help them move forward and decide what to do next. You may have developed a neurological condition which will change the way you can live your life, perhaps a brain or spine trauma has turned life upside down and you need to rethink the plans that you’d made for the future, or ill health may have stopped you getting about and with that your confidence has taken a knock.

No matter what your personal reasons are (and it's up to you whether you want to share them), we can help you build your self-esteem, look at what skills & abilities you have and give you the self-motivation to move on to where you want to be.  The central theme of the sessions is communication and how it can improve your confidence. The first week is spent getting to know each other and the course leader, Howard Poole, in a relaxed non-judgemental environment. The emphasis is on you as an individual and what you feel you need to do to move forward. You may see it as an opportunity to explore the possibilities of job searching, retraining, volunteering or learning how to be more assertive in living life the way you want.

One of our course graduates says "It helped me make decisions about what I needed to do to move forward with my life after having a brain tumour removed, I’d recommend it to anyone."

The course lasts 5 weeks, one day a week, and it's free. 


English class at The Brain Charity

The Brain Charity in partnership with Liverpool City Council's Adult Education Service runs a number of courses to help people increase their knowledge and regain skills that they may have lost following diagnosis of a condition. The subjects covered are:

We have lots of other courses on throughout the year at The Brain Charity. Please have a look at our online calendar to see what's coming up.

If you are interested in attending a course at The Brain Charity, get in touch for more information and to book your place: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 0151 298 2999.

Covering letter

  • A covering letter is attached to your CV when submitting a job application. It provides details about your skills and experience that can make you stand out. It is also a place where you are able to elaborate a little on things mentioned in your CV.
  • Since an employer is likely to read your covering letter first, it is important to grab their attention as quickly as possible.
  • If possible, address the covering letter to a specific person, often a hiring manager in the company you are applying to.
  • Mention who you are, which position you are applying for, and how you would be ideal for the role.
  • In the last paragraph, ask your employer to read your CV and provide contact information.


  • A CV should be typed, and take up a maximum of two sides of A4.
  • It is important to stand out, so avoid using vague terms like ‘I think’ or ‘I feel’, or generic words such as ‘good’ and ‘average’. You want employers to notice you; instead use dynamic words such as ‘achieved’, ‘proficient’, ‘confident’, ‘self-motivated’, etc.
  • If there are any gaps in your employment history, you should try to present this in a positive light, highlighting any skills that you might have used in this period that may be appropriate for the job to which you are applying.
  • An impressive CV will contain this essential information:
    • Personal information and contact information: Name, telephone number, email address.
    • A Personal Profile: Here you can give a short summary of yourself, and how you are well-suited to the job at hand.
    • Skills and Achievements: Brief details on your most important skills/achievements.
    • Work history: Details of past employment, beginning with the most recent. Include the company’s name, dates of employment, the title of your position, and some details of your duties.
    • Qualifications: Any qualifications achieved at school or at university, as well as any other training you may have received, starting with the most recent.
    • References: You can write ‘references available on request’; you are not required to put their names on your CV.

A diagnosis of some neurological conditions, such as Epilepsy, Stroke and Brain Tumour, requires you have to notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA). A list of medical conditions can be found at DirectGov.

Wheelchair user and Motability carPlease note the law requires the individual to inform the DVLA of any condition which may affect their ability to drive safely. You will be sent a questionnaire to fill in and asked for your consent for the DVLA to contact your doctor. They will then decide whether you can continue to drive and how long before they will re-assess the situation.

If you receive the higher rate of the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance or PIP then there are several other benefits that you may be entitled to, which will help with driving:

You may be entitled to a free disabled tax disc

Access to the Motability Scheme, which provides a simple way to enjoy a new car, scooter, or powered wheelchair without the worry of owning or running one.

Access to a Blue Badge. The is for drivers or passengers with severe mobility problems who have difficulties using public transport. It allows holders of a Blue Badge to park close to where they need to go and operates throughout the UK. It is administered by local councils, so check your local council website for instructions on how to obtain one in your area.

You can get access to disbled toilets in shopping centres and pubs by using a Radar key from Disability Rights UK.

Other websites and sources of information that may be useful updated January 2019

Links to information and advice about mobility aids, including walking aids, scooters and powered wheelchairs, and access ramps. Updated March 2015.


The Brain Charity lists these insurance companies for information, but does not recommmend any in particular. Updated January 2018.

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Stay at home

As the media becomes dominated by Coronavirus, and we’re told to isolate and avoid contact, it can be difficult not to become anxious. This is particularly true for those of us with friends or family in high risk groups, such as dementia. As dementia is largely a disease of later life, and high-risk people over 70 have been told to isolate at home, we ought to bear in mind the effects of the pandemic on those of us living with dementia and those of us providing care.

Watching for symptoms of infection in people with dementia

When a person has dementia, it can be difficult to express verbally. An individual with full cognitive function might describe themselves as feeling unwell if they have infection. Dementia can make it difficult for a person to articulate discomfort, or even to distinguish a change between feeling well and unwell. If we suspect that the person we’re caring for has contracted Coronavirus, we should look for the following symptoms provided as guidelines by the NHS:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste

In addition, if you spot more drastic changes in demeanour and behaviour in a person with dementia, it is important to advocate for them quickly. Explain to medical professionals what the person's recent normal behaviour is, and how it has changed. This includes changes to mood, and cognitive functioning. It is useful have notes on history of medical conditions, (frequent urinary tract infections, for example) then describe any suspicious changes from the norm to the physician.

When people living with dementia get infections, signs of discomfort to look out for include:

  • Not wanting to be touched
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased confusion
  • Making unusual sounds – calling or crying
  • Tense facial expressions and grimaces
  • Unusual changes in body language – violent actions, pulling away, tight fists

In the event of any of these changes, can the person be consoled, calmed or distracted? If the behaviour is persistent, this can be a sign of infection. Newly developed challenging behaviours that can be a sign of pain include:

  • Cursing
  • Combativeness
  • Apathy and withdrawal from activities and interactions
  • Becoming more high maintenance, seemingly more difficult to please
  • Wandering
  • Restlessness
  • Repeating behaviours or words

If you are in doubt as to how the person you’re caring for is feeling, you might also wish to try a visual aid, such as the face scale. This can be used to help you identify how someone is feeling. If possible, get the person to point or indicate one of the faces on the scale to show which best represents their feeling of pain.

Tips for explaining the lockdown to someone with dementia

Dementia can cause confusion and loneliness at the best of times, and such drastic shifts in routine may exacerbate these feelings. If possible, try to keep a structure to your day, with stable meal times and food which the person enjoys.

It is undoubtedly hard to explain to the person you are with, why they can’t go outside or to the day care centre. While each person will experience this lockdown differently, it is distressing for everyone to be stuck indoors if they would like to go outside. Here are some tips on approaching the lockdown guidelines to explain them to the person living with dementia:

  • Try to remain calm and pleasant, even if you have repeated the same information multiple times.
  • The way that the information is delivered often has a bearing on how it is received. For many people with dementia, the words themselves are not understandable, so the way you say it will make a difference.
  • If appropriate, try to use physical touch when explaining. Place a hand on their arm, or around their waist.
  • Check to see if they are listening. If they are not able to process the information right at this moment, try again in a little while.
  • Make sure there is no background noise and as few distractions as possible when you are trying to get their attention.
  • Try to use body language to explain things. If the person is having trouble understanding words, you can point, signal, or demonstrate.

Here are some questions and tips collected by speaking to some of our service users, and by Linda Lawson of the Alzheimer’s Society:

"My husband doesn’t understand the lock down, and when I explain to him, he doesn’t remember. What can I do?"

  • Order newspapers to read with breakfast everyday so that he is aware of the current situation daily.
  • Suggest to the person that ‘today we’ll have a stay at home day’ and plan activities accordingly. This could be repeated each day of isolation.
  • I wrote down one sentence at a time about the virus and mum read it back to me with some reactions actually as she read it out loud. The end result of several sentences in a bright colorful pen - I have put by her table mat where she sits for breakfast, lunch and tea so that perhaps she might read it for a few days and I can read back to her every few days.

"My mum wants to get out and about as usual, and when she looks out of the window, she sees young mums with children. How can I help her to remember that we can’t go outside?"

  • I explain to mum why this by saying (as true to the fact as I can) children have to go out for exercise at least once a day so they don’t get ill, they can only be out for half an hour max and only once. We have even sat together to see if we can spot anyone twice!! (she is sort of a neighbourhood watch at the moment!)
  • Put a sign on the front door stating ‘Danger, do not go out’ and even add some information about the virus.
  • Take photos of shops, pubs, cafes etc. that are closed and are the usual places a person may visit to show them what the situation is.
  • If the situation is distressing, try to distract with an ’important job’ which needs to be done – for example – drying up, weeding, etc.

"I’m worried that social isolation will cause mum’s condition to worsen, as she isn’t in contact with people on a daily basis. What can I do?"

  • We have a similar issue with my mum who has very recently gone into respite care. We have been sending cards or letters regularly explaining why we aren’t visiting. I try to include past memories about people or situations she will still remember e.g. “Do you remember how elegant grandma R was with all those amazing hats?” or “I bumped into S who worked with you in the police... he says hi.”
  • If possible, organise regular facetimes or phone calls with friends and family members. Print out photos of loved ones and place them around the house as prompts to start conversation with.
  • Try to engage the person with activities if possible. If you would like some tips, here are some compiled by the Baring Foundation.
  • You are also welcome to join in The Brain Charity’s online activities, which will appear in our calendar here as they become available.

We can help

Finally, please be kind to yourself if you are struggling with this highly unusual circumstance. It can be tough to cope with the effects of dementia at the best of times, and extra stress does not help. The Brain Charity can assist you during this time – please reach out to us and we can offer a range of delivery or remote services, including distance social activities and counselling.

To enquire about our music-based therapy workshops for people with living with dementia, please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

At the moment, these workshops run online - please click here for details of how to join. 

See Also:

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What about COVID-19?

The Brain Charity is still open! Meanwhile, here are some links about COVID-19 and employment - then scroll down for more about employment.

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What help does The Brain Charity provide?

Directions: Ways to a brighter furtureWe can provide you with Employment Support. Through the Directions Project, we will give you back the confidence you need to come to terms with your change in employment situation and forge a new path. Directions will be the springboard from which you can achieve the goals we know you are capable of.

 Aspire Education AcademyAnd the Aspire Education Academy is a short skills-development programme that has a high success rate of getting people back into work. Check our online events diary for dates and times of the next course.

What is classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010?

A disabled person is described in the Equality Act 2010 as one who has a physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

I am applying for a job, do I have to say that I have a disability?

You do not have to declare your disability during the recruitment process. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against candidates because of their disability.

If you are offered a job it is up to you whether you inform your employer about your disability or not. If you choose not to tell them you can’t later rely on the fact that you have a disability if something goes wrong. If your employer doesn’t know that you have a disability they aren’t legally obliged to put any reasonable adjustments in place to support you in your role.

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What is permitted work?

Permitted work is work you may do, including voluntary work, while claiming disability-related benefits such as Employment Support Allowance (ESA). You can work for up to 16 hours each week. If you are receiving ESA, before you start work, you have to fill in this DWP form and send it to the JobCentre. You can read more in this DWP factsheet.

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What is Occupational Health?

An Occupational Health Service is an impartial, confidential advisory support service. People are referred to Occupational Health so that both they and their manager can have access to professional advice and guidance to aid the improvement of their health. This includes:

  • How best to support a member of staff with a long term health condition.
  • How the working environment may impact on health.
  • Advice and guidance regarding rehabilitation, recovery and reasonable adjustments.

What is a reasonable adjustment?

Simply put a reasonable adjustment is anything that can be done to enable you to stay in work.

There is no limit as to how many adjustments can be made and the employer has a responsibility to look at all possible reasonable adjustments.

Reasonable adjustments could include, for example:

  • Enabling staff to take more regular breaks.
  • Providing a place where staff can rest for short periods during the working day.
  • Flexible or reduced working hours.
  • Moving a work station further from a source of heat (this might help with fatigue) or nearer to a toilet.
  • Assign staff to a different role in the organisation or change roles and responsibilities’ within current job description.
  • Arrange for meetings to be held at a time or place to suit staff.
  • Agree a flexible working pattern which enables staff to do some of their work from home.
  • Give a car parking space by the nearest entrance to work.
  • Improve physical accessibility – for example, by providing handrails or a ramp.
  • Provide a larger computer screen for people with visual problems.
  • Provide voice-recognition software or an adapted keyboard or mouse.
  • Improved lighting.
  • A special chair if staff cannot stand for long periods or have back problems.
  • Providing written materials on different coloured paper which can help with some visual problems.

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Do I have to fund the reasonable adjustments myself or does the employer?

You as an individual would not normally be expected to pay yourself. Your employers may have to do so subject to their size and income. employers will normally be expected to look at making reasonable adjustments before looking to have the costs met. Some finding is available to staff and employers through the Access to Work scheme.

What is Access to Work?

Access to Work is a government grant which you or your employer can apply for in order to assist you in work.

Normally the application process can be done online, by phone or e-mail.

You will be asked what you need the funding for, your employers details and some of your own personal information e.g. contact details and National Insurance number.

It may be possible to apply to access to work for a grant for things like equipment, software, and travel to and from work and any journeys whilst in work. You may be able to get funding for a support worker who could carry out any practical tasks to assist you in work.

Once it has been approved this will be confirmed in writing.

Your Access to Work funding can be reviewed at any time should you need additional help.

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Can my employer sack me on the grounds of ill health & capability?

It is not illegal for your employer to end your contract of employment on the grounds of ill health and capability. However, before this is done, many things have to be carried out before a final decision is reached.

Your employer does have to consider all other options including making reasonable adjustments before taking this final action.

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Should my employer offer me another role?

Yes but only if there is another role available within the organisation. It is possible for an employer to consider a disabled person more favourably than a non-disabled person but this may not always happen.

Do you have any tips?

What help does The Brain Charity provide?

Directions: Ways to a brighter furtureWe can provide you with Employment Support. Through the Directions Project, we will give you back the confidence you need to come to terms with your change in employment situation and forge a new path. Directions will be the springboard from which you can achieve the goals we know you are capable of.

 Aspire Education AcademyAnd the Aspire Education Academy is a short skills-development programme that has a high success rate of getting people back into work. Check our online events diary for dates and times of the next course.


  • We all have valuable transferable skills, despite our disabilities. Skills come from life experience and prior employment.
  • Identify what strengths you have that can be marketed to employers and highlight some specific examples that demonstrate them.
  • Don’t forget that they don’t all have to come from work-related experience. You can include skills gained from volunteering, hobbies, family responsibilities, etc.
  • Sometimes thinking of what our own skills are can be a challenge. The Buzz Quiz is a short quiz that asks you questions about yourself, and uses those answers to summarise your skills and special qualities. This could be a good starting point for thinking of how to market yourself to employers.
  • When reading a job description you should consider what the employer is looking for and what skills possess. You will need to demonstrate how you fit the bill for the type of employee they are searching for.
  • Common transferable skills include:
    • Communication: Can you express ideas clearly? Are you confident speaking in front of a group of colleagues? Are you a good listener? Can you put forward a persuasive argument, taking on board constructive criticism?
    • Teamwork: Are you able to work with others to achieve a common goal? Can you balance assisting your colleagues with your own responsibilities?
    • Management: Can you motivate and direct people? Are you able to delegate tasks according to people’s skills? Will you be able to demonstrate initiative and forward thinking?
    • Flexibility: How have you reacted to sudden, unforeseen difficulties in the past? Are you able to stay calm when presented with challenging situations?
    • Organisation: How good is your time management? Are you able to set priorities? How detail-oriented are you?

Coronavirus: Liverpool Adult Learning Service have paused all of their classes at the Charity for the time being. Thus includes our English, Maths, Creative Writing, Photography and Computer Classes.

certificate resultOur English course is suitable for those wanting to gain an entry level to Level 2 Certificate in English. The course is run by Liverpool Adult Education Service and is open to anyone.

The course aims to develop your reading, writing, speaking, listening and communication skills to help you get the most from life. People do the English course for a variety of reasons, you may have struggled with it as a subject at school, or you could be in need of re-learning following an illness or accident, or you may just want to brush-up your existing skills, whatever the reason we’re here to help you. Classes are taught in a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere and you can learn at your own pace, the emphasis is on you as an individual and helping you achieve the outcome you want.

English classes are always very popular and we’ve had some lovely feedback from our students about how much they’ve enjoyed learning. Classes are held on a Monday, 9.30-12.00. Because of demand, you will need to book your place onto the course by calling 0151 298 2999.

Liverpool Adult Learning Service

Here is some guidance on applying for PIP if you have epilepsy. You should read the guide from Disability Rights UK as well.

The PIP form assesses 10 areas of care needs (Daily Living Activities) and 2 areas of mobility. Based on your answers, you will be awarded a number of points. The amount of points you score determines the payment you receive. Please see the Disability Rights UK PIP guide for breakdowns and payment scales.

When applying for PIP it is important not to apply with your best day in mind. You should instead consider your ability to carry out a task most of the time - in other words, does your condition affect your ability to cook, dress, and wash more than 15 days out of 30? What is the average number of days affected by your condition?

Our guidance for Epilepsy and PIP is online here in full: Epilepsy and PIP, and an Example PIP form.

General tips

  • Practice – don’t write straight on to the form. Use some paper to write and phrase your answers before putting them on the form
  • Photocopy the completed form before you send it off, so you remember what you wrote
  • Try to get someone to check the form over for you – preferably someone who knows you we.
  • Enclose statements from medical professionals, or friends and family to support your answers. This helps the assessor understand your condition from both a medical and personal perspective.
  • Enclosing repeat prescriptions or a diary may also be beneficial.
  • When filling in each section, if you cannot complete a task reliably, do not just tick ‘yes’ – tick ‘no’ and explain the conditions and problems you encounter when trying to complete a task.


updated January 2019

Looking for Health Information Online: How do we how who to trust? (guidance from University Hospital Aintree)

  • NHS - Information on conditions, treatments, local services and healthy living.
  • Cochrane Library - a collection of high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making.
  • NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) - provides guidelines for the NHS
  • Healthwatch England - The national consumer champion in health and care.
  • Patient Information Forum - Campaigns to ensure that health information is central to high quality, patient-centred care.
  • Patient UK - Provides non-medical people in UK with information on health and diseases.
  • - provides trusted health information, free tools, news and doctor-reviewed resources.
  • NICE Evidence - aimed at NHS staff but still useful for in-depth information