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First Steps – The Stroke Association NI

First Steps is an emotional support and counselling service, run by the Stroke Association NI, for stroke survivors and carers to help them overcome mental health challenges during the pandemic.

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Strokes can be life changing. But in addition to the physical effects of these debilitating medical episodes, emotional problems and fatigue can also overwhelm patients. First Steps was a support programme set up by The Stroke Association NI as a direct response to the Covid pandemic.

The charity recognised there was a need to provide emotional support for stroke survivors and their carers, with both groups reporting increased feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation that were made worse by lockdown and the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic.

First Steps’ beneficiaries were given free one-to-one sessions with qualified counsellors trained in recognising, understanding and working with the emotional effects of stroke. The sessions provided a safe, confidential place for these people to talk to an experienced professional about their feelings and concerns, including anxiety, fears, worries, grief, relationships, or thoughts and behaviours they wanted to change. It helped build emotional resilience, readjust to life after stroke and prepared them for reintegration back into the community.

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