Meningitis Now staff member Clara Wiggins

Support for Vanessa after meningitis leaves son Lloyd with acquired brain injury

Clara Wiggins | 12th November 2019

Turning to Meningitis Now for support has been a complete game changer for Vanessa Smallridge, whose son Lloyd has been living with the impact of meningitis since he fell ill in 2012

Meningitis Now support for Vanessa after son's acquired brain injury

Lloyd was only an 8-month-old baby at the time but was left with an acquired brain injury, which has been a huge challenge for everyone in the family.

But Devon-based Vanessa said the assistance given to them by our Community Support Officer for the South West, Dawn McNiff, really helped to turn their lives around.

“The acquired brain injury caused him to struggle immensely in the school system,” Vanessa told us. “And as a result, he is now home educated by myself."

“We have received a huge amount of personal support from Dawn, she has really helped me to make sense of our new world and life."

“On the other side of meningitis, Dawn has been a friend and a listening ear as family and friends changed towards us as our son’s additional needs became more apparent.”

Financial help

Vanessa said Dawn was also able to help point them towards available financial help as they struggled with only one wage to pay for the therapy Lloyd needed. This included funding from Meningitis Now to pay for weekly play therapy sessions that have helped him cope with the multiple challenges his acquired brain injury causes.

“Play therapy also has an element of family therapy that has significantly helped us as a family with coping strategies, as my husband and I both had periods of PTSD following the trauma related to our son’s illness,” added Vanessa. 

Dawn said it had been an absolute pleasure to work with Vanessa and Lloyd. As well as helping her with funding for play therapy, she had also been able to sign-post her to other forms of support like the Child Brain Injury Trust. Importantly, she was also able to offer plenty of one-to-one support over the phone and also met Vanessa, Lloyd, his dad and sister at one of our Family Days

“The Smallridge family are a really lovely family, I’ve felt a real sense of connection working with them,” said Dawn.

“Vanessa is just such a positive person, and Lloyd is an absolute delight. He really threw himself into the Family Day – I’m so glad he came!”

Make a real difference

Dawn said the help she was able to offer Vanessa and Lloyd was a great example of where Meningitis Now can make a real difference to people’s lives. 

“I hope we can show how worthwhile it can be to seek that support, when you are ready for it,” she said. “Everyone is different and everyone will want something different at a different time – but it is important for people to know that we are here for anyone who is living with the impact of meningitis.

“I urge anyone who wants to find out more to have a look at the sort of support we offer on our website, or to pick up the phone and have a chat. We’re here to support you too.”

To find out more about our support, please visit our Get Support pages.

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