3 Bridges receives $714,000 for brain injury buddy program project

Cameron Macdonald of Mortdale champions the Inclusive Volunteering Network at 3Bridges. He survived a traumatic brain injury after being involved in a car accident when he was 22 years of age.
Cameron Macdonald of Mortdale champions the Inclusive Volunteering Network at 3Bridges. He survived a traumatic brain injury after being involved in a car accident when he was 22 years of age.

3 Bridges has received $714,000 to fund a two-year pilot project that supports people who have sustained a traumatic brain injury.

The organisation was one of four successful NSW grant recipients that got the money from icare Foundation.

Funds will help people who volunteer in mainstream workplaces, with the assistance of a 'buddy' who will be recruited and trained.

The foundation was established in 2016 to invest in partners who can improve well-being outcomes for injured workers, road users, their families and carers.

Its general manager, Barney Smith, says participating in meaningful volunteering roles has the potential to improve health, by increasing social networks and interactions.

"People with serious injuries face trials that most of us don't have to deal with," he said.

"There can be loss of meaning and purpose in their lives. Fifty per cent of people in our Lifetime Care scheme with a brain injury suffer from depression and anxiety."

The program pairs a buddy with an adult based on mutual interests and compatible personalities. Together they will participate in meaningful, sustained volunteering roles in businesses, community and government organisations.

It aims to create an increased sense of purpose and belonging for participants. It is overseen by a user-led advisory group that includes people with traumatic brain injury and their families and carers.

Funds will serve as an important initiative to reduce social isolation.

"We particularly appreciate icare's collaborative co-design process, which ensures that the project is close to the needs and expectations of people with brain injury," 3 Bridges chief executive Rosemary Bishop said.

The launch of the Volunteering Buddies social hub will be held in the beginning of 2020.

Details: 1300 327 434.

Cameron's story

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