Hastings resident, Helen Rudd, who almost died after being seriously injured in a road traffic accident has spoken of her involvement with The Silver Line charity and how it has helped with her recovery.
In 2006, Helen, 55 was left with a major brain injury when she was hit in the head by a van.
The impact knocked her off her feet and she rolled under parked cars.
She was in a coma for three weeks.
Helen says she remembers nothing about the accident and thirteen years on still finds it difficult to talk about. “It was only very recently that I found out quite how serious it was,” she said.
“I had a very traumatic brain injury. It was a very long and arduous recovery.”
In the years following the accident Helen received treatment at various specialist brain injury centres.
She said: “I don’t remember any of it. I lost five years of memory.
“I had to learn everything from scratch; motor functions, reading, writing - I had to grow up all over again.”
Helen moved to Hastings from her family home, 200 miles away in Somerset in 1985. She made many friends locally and, prior to the accident was a civil servant working for the Inland Revenue.
With her family living such a long way away, her friends were more important than ever at the time of the accident.
She said: “I had lots of support during some very dark times.
“It was a gradual growing up process and eventually I was able to learn coping strategies.”
Three years ago, while listening to the radio Helen heard Dame Esther Rantzen talking about the charity she founded in 2013, The Silver Line.
It is the only free, 24/7, confidential helpline in the UK for vulnerable, isolated older people.
Since its launch, it has received more than two million calls, the majority of which occur outside normal working hours, when other services are closed.
The charity also offers telephone friendships; connecting volunteers with older people for weekly calls.
Helen said: “Esther was talking about friendship and phoning an older person once a week for a chat.
“It encouraged me to get involved with the charity and it was like a Godsend.
“I’ve been a volunteer with Silver Line for three years now.
“It is so enjoyable and so worthwhile. I have been speaking to my Silver Liner friend for more than two years.
“It has absolutely changed my life. ”
The Silver Line ensures volunteers get training and support.
They also meet volunteers to see what they are like as a person, so they can be matched up to a like-minded friend.
Along with volunteering for The Silver Line, Helen also volunteers for the local blind community in Hastings, Rye and Battle - editing the Hastings talking newspaper.
Visit: https://www.thesilverline.org.uk or call 0800 470 8090.