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Support from Liverpool’s The Brain Charity saved Shirley from debt and loneliness after devastating diagnosis

1 year ago

Support from Liverpool’s The Brain Charity saved Shirley from debt and loneliness after devastating diagnosis

The Brain Charity features in our Liverpool Charity Advent.

Being diagnosed with a serious illness can be hard enough to deal with.

But when it causes everything around you to collapse, it can seem impossible.

In June last year, former debt advisor Shirley Shacklady, from Liverpool, was diagnosed with a rare brain condition, syringomyelia, which causes a cyst to grow inside the spinal cord, causing falls, seizures and potential brain damage.

Around the same time, she was laid off from her job due to the pandemic and, having been used to helping other people manage their finances, this time it was she who found herself unable to pay her bills and her mortgage.

“I had always been a positive person, but the diagnosis combined with losing my job made me feel like a victim, wondering ‘why me?’.

“It made me a virtual recluse,” she says. “I was struggling to make ends meet so I stopped talking to people and going out.”

Thankfully Shirley got help from The Brain Charity in Liverpool.

The brain Charity
The brain Charity

Its team helped her to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to alleviate her money worries and have supported her in the search for employment.

Shirley adds: “My job had always been about helping others, but when I needed help it was so hard for me to ask for it.

“But the support from The Brain Charity’s team had a huge impact on my life, not just practically but emotionally too. Their calls to see how I was doing made a massive difference at a time I was feeling isolated.”

Our most precious memories and the thousands of subtle differences that make us who we are are housed in our brains; it’s the most complex structure in the universe, and it runs our whole world, making our body move, making our decisions … and even telling us when to smile.

So for anyone diagnosed with a neurological condition which affects that, life can become lonely and frightening. People can lose control of their lives and face unemployment and poverty.

The Brain Charity, a national organisation, helps anyone affected by a neurological condition to pick up the pieces, so they can rebuild their lives and achieve their potential; so they can lead longer, healthier, happier lives.

There are more than 600 conditions affecting the brain, spine and nervous system, and The Brain Charity provides practical help, emotional support, and social activities for every single one.

And you can help them. Find out how here.

The charity’s Sixmas Appeal, which Shirley is the face of, aims to provide support to some of the most vulnerable people this Christmas, for whom the cost of living crisis is hitting hard.

Their staff helped more than 3,000 people last year, and they’re predicting more people than ever will need their help this winter, 

And any Christmas gift you can give to The Brain Charity will this year go twice as far. This Christmas, The Brain Charity has partnered with the Aviva Community Fund to double all donations to its Sixmas cost of living appeal.

Shirley says: “Please support The Brain Charity’s Sixmas appeal this Christmas.”

To find out more about The Brain Charity and its Sixmas Appeal, go to



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