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Sovereign Communicates Message of Hope

Thursday, 2 November 2006

Sovereign Communicates Message of Hope to Manawatu Sovereign Spirit sponsorship enables the development of a communication programme designed to enrich the lives of people with acquired brain injuries

The Manawatu Stewart Centre, a rehabilitation and support centre for people adjusting to life with acquired brain injury, has received a substantial contribution of $12,448 from Sovereign Spirit.

The funding will be used to grow the 'Communication Partnership - Returning to the Community Programme', which is facilitated by Speech Language Therapist, Maxine Bevin and the Stewart Centre team. The initiative takes a holistic approach to rehabilitation, by educating and supporting not just those who have experienced changes in their communication skills but also their family and friends who will share in the journey with them.

The programme has three separate components including the development of a communications team who assist clients to the Stewart Centre and an educational programme designed to develop the skills of the staff. Workshops will also be available to family and workers in the community who would like to learn more and are designed to educate people on long-term strategies to help the person adjust to their change in situation.

Janet Webb, Manager of the Stewart Centre, says they are very grateful for Sovereign Spirit's help, as it means they can assist more people who may be ineligible for support through the public heath system due to funding constraints. The centre aims to support and educate people who acquire damage to their brain through organic means like a stroke or heart attack, as these people may not have access to the same long-term rehabilitation programmes as people who acquire similar damage through trauma.

"During the early weeks of someone having a stroke there is quite a lot of information and support, but once you return to the community it's important to keep revisiting and addressing what it means to have a stroke and what communication difficulties people may face. Sovereign Spirit has enabled us to develop a support network that will achieve just that," she says.

Former dairy farmer Ross finds it difficult to speak, read or write since he had a stroke six years ago. Despite his ability to communicate verbally being severely limited, his intelligence, personality and dreams remain, which can be very frustrating for him at times. Through Sovereign Spirit's support, the Stewart Centre can now help more people like Ross learn to cope with the difficulties they face by extending the Communication Partnerships Programme and developing community workshops for families and friends affected by stroke.

"The workshops and partnerships will be really important because people will learn that their knowledge and understanding of different communication techniques can make a huge difference to people with brain injuries, and really lift their confidence and wellbeing," Mrs Webb says.

There have been many success stories celebrated at the Manawatu Stewart Centre, whose visitors come from as far afield as Marton, Fielding, Dannevirke, Otaki and Palmerston North.

Ross is one of these success stories, from reluctantly going to the Stewart Centre in the early days, he is now an integral part of the communication team, and fulfils an important peer and mentoring role for people. He lives independently in the community, communicating his needs using the skills learnt at the Stewart Centre.

Mr Vena Crawley, Head of Marketing and Product Management at Sovereign, says Sovereign feels that this is an incredible way to help people rejoin the community, as many can feel disconnected from society and close family and friends.

"People affected by stroke obviously feel a lot of frustration and anger at their sudden inability to communicate. I'm really proud that my team has seen the importance of helping these people to lead fulfilled lives," he concludes.

About Sovereign Spirit Sovereign Spirit is a unique sponsorship initiative where employees at Sovereign get the chance to select 12 different non-profit organisations working in health and wellbeing across New Zealand in a calendar year.

Each month, Sovereign Spirit moves around the country to a new region calling for non-profit organisations to put their names forward. The final decision on which organisation is supported each month is made by Sovereign employees, who take part in an online vote. Once a non-profit is selected, Sovereign employees get behind that cause by raising funds and dressing in smart-casual on Spirit Day. As well as providing a $10,000 contribution, Sovereign matches each dollar donated by staff on Spirit Day. In 2006 Sovereign Spirit will be supporting 12 regions in New Zealand, with two in the month of May.

To date Sovereign has supported 21 non-profit organisations across New Zealand through the Sovereign Spirit sponsorship, with a total contribution of over $231,000.

For more information on Sovereign Spirit please visit:


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