Selly Oak home for families of injured Service personnel marks 5 years
Our SSAFA Norton House in Selly Oak, a home-from-home for relatives of injured Service personnel, has reunited former guests to celebrate its fifth anniversary.
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SSAFA Norton House, Selly Oak, a home-from-home for the relatives of injured Servicemen and women who are receiving hospital treatment in Birmingham, has reunited former guests at a celebration to mark its fifth anniversary on 20 February.
The house in Selly Oak is one of two Norton Homes run by SSAFA. Both homes are close to the main military treatment centres at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court in Surrey.
SSAFA Norton House, Selly Oak, opened in February 2009 to provide a home away from home for the families of troops being treated at the nearby hospital. Based in Selly Wick Road, the spacious seven-bedroom house offers a safe and supportive environment to those coping with serious illness or life-changing injuries to a loved one, while its trained staff provide practical and emotional support.
Laura Brown has stayed at SSAFA Norton House, Selly Oak, many times, initially for a period of five months when her fiancé was first injured. Lance Corporal Callum Brown of the Royal Regiment of Scotland 2nd Battalion was severely wounded after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan in January 2011. The couple were married in Queen Elizabeth Hospital while Laura was staying at Norton House.
Laura said: “In the early days when I was visiting Callum, I stayed at the Alex Wing, then at a hotel and later in a flat but moved to Norton House in March. It was so much better there because you were never on your own. When you got up in the morning or when you got home from the hospital in the evening there was always someone you could talk to. I got so much support from the team at Norton House and it definitely helped to have other families around in a similar situation - people who understood and who could relate to what you were going through. It helped not to be alone.
“Callum still has a lot of operations to go but I know that I’ve always got somewhere to stay when I visit him. Because we’re based up in Scotland it’s a really long way to go and to have somewhere safe and familiar to go makes a massive difference to me. I’d have been lost without Norton House.”
Many guests find the mutual support offered by spending time with families in a similar situation is invaluable. The anniversary celebrations reunited some of the first guests at the house and also brought together many who have supported the project.
House deputy manager Helen Gibson said: “When we arrived at SSAFA Norton House as a team we had a wealth of experience working with people. But we have found the resilience and strength of human spirit of the families who stay here truly humbling and I can honestly say it has changed our lives.
“To date we have seen over 1600 people pass through our doors - mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles, even grandparents. And it has not only been the families that have had an impact but the numerous volunteers who have offered their services, from gardeners and cake-bakers to fundraisers and massages therapists, there has been a whole host of people who have wanted to give. It’s a very unique and special place.”