Our aim is to help stroke survivors of working age to take control of their lives through active self-help and mutual support and to regain as much independence as possible, including returning to work.
Learn more about how to get started on your journy to recovery with Different Strokes North London.
We provide services, on a self-organised, voluntary basis, which help enhance mobility, boost confidence and reduce the sense of isolation experienced by stroke survivors.
By sharing our experience of stroke, we learn from each other, exchange coping strategies and discover new skills and values that equip us to move back into the world. Members are encouraged to become involved in the running of the group and to take part in research projects.
John Murray, Coordinator
Tel 0775 241 3223
We would encourage any working-age stroke survivor to come along and join us. its very easy to join, you can either just turn up at the Winkfield Centre for one of our Chi Kung classes or at our exercise classes, which are now held at the New River Sports Centre, White Hart Lane.
You just turn up, introduce yourself and join in or if you wish you can phone me and I will tell you exactly where to go and at what time.
We have a great variety of people. Every week, around 15–20 people take part in each class, so there are about 60–80 people active in our group each week.
The full list of members is about 160. The active members range from working-age and beyond. At the moment, our youngest member is 23 years old and the oldest has just reached 80 years of age.
We are from a variety of backgrounds - I was previously the Haringey Borough Architect. Cathy, who organises our activities, was a chef. We have people who are teachers, people who have worked in charities and one who was a doctor. We have a great variety of members and their stories are all very interesting.
One of the things that are most important in recovering from a stroke is a positive attitude. I read some research some years ago describing how important it is, and in a way, you can see that in reality, that those who are determined to tend to get better. Of course, the reverse can also be true, but if you do get better it means that you are very determined.
Of course, it is quite difficult sometimes to carry on, because the recovery is long-winded and tedious work, but it is important to remember that when you move your arm new connections are formed in your brain. So all physical exercise helps your brain to learn again, for me it took about 6–9 months to be able to move my left hand again.
We help encourage people to keep on with their exercises although we understand that it difficult at times, we will always encourage people to be determined to get better.
What I enjoy about our group is meeting all the new stroke survivors that join and getting to hear their personal stories about their strokes. I ask about their backgrounds and what happened to them and what I have discovered is that stroke survivors are interested in other stroke survivors and are able to compare experiences and usually you find that they are similar and perhaps differ at some times - we learn from each other that way and it is very interesting. This is what we do after we have a class.
We have a chat with each other over a cup of tea or coffee and we discuss our stories. I find others’ stories very fascinating.
A gentleman joined about four years ago. He had had his stroke seven years ago — so three years before. He lives in Cricklewood and was driven here to Haringey before. Now he comes three times a week by tube. He did not just join this club, he also goes to different activities like City Lit for speech and does different activities. He gained the confidence to not take cabs anymore, now he takes the tube and goes to visit friends.
Another gentleman was initially not able to move at all, and now does not need a walking stick anymore. He can move his shoulders which he couldn’t do before. It does take time and when you stick to the exercise programme, you will start to see little movements and you know the range of movement is going to increase.
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Another gentleman is now at work, he is no longer working with us after regaining his confidence, and hand and finger movement. It’s quite empowering to see people start to talk to each other and seeing their speech start to grown because they speak in class. Other people tell us they start to feel sensation in their hands after working with sensory ball exercises. Or even pains that just disappear!
In the eight years that I’ve been teaching this group we have had quite a few success stories — some quieter than others. Recently one of our members got a job. She was really keen on getting back into full-time employment and she accomplished that with a lot of perseverance and determination. Another young woman went and got her degree and now has decided to come back and work in physical therapy with stroke survivors.
More subtle things can also help make people happier and more comfortable socially. Because they’re with people who have had different experiences and can share information about treatments or sources of information.
At the very least, people can maintain their capacities in my experience, but usually they improve.
Find out about Christina's experinece of having a stroke at a very young age and her recovery before and after she came in contact with Different Strokes North London.
I found Different Strokes through the Occupational Therapist from my community stroke team. She said “You won’t be left alone, there is a lot of help out there. Different Strokes, offers exercise and tai chi classes and it will be worthwhile meeting them. You will get to meet other survivors and you won’t feel like you’re on your own”. It is hard for someone who is able-bodied to understand what you’ve been through — only other survivors will understand what you’ve been through.
That’s how I found Different Strokes. When I went for my first Tai Chi lesson I felt really young! Everyone was really friendly, accepting and supporting. You kind of forget you’ve had a stroke because you’re with other people who are doing the same things as you — maybe not with the same speed or ease —, and you’re in a group experience.
I was in my final year of university, doing International Development and Biological Conservation. I remember the date, it was Monday the 13th of January that I had my stroke. I woke up that morning and remember not feeling very well. The minute I stepped out of bed I collapsed to the floor, and I didn’t understand what was happening. I thought maybe I got up too quickly — I didn’t think I might have had a stroke because I was only 22 at the time. I remember I kept trying to stand up again and again but I kept falling. My housemate found me when she saw me trying to walk out of my bedroom, and told me to sit down. She took me to A&E and that’s when I was diagnosed with a stroke.
When I got discharged from hospital, I got the Community Stroke Team to come and see me. Luckily they saw me every day for six weeks. They focused on me using my hand for functional movements, such as activities of daily living, like grabbing a cup or combing my hair. I was also focusing on walking outside at increasing distances every day.
After the six weeks, I got involved in the Upper Limb Programme at Queens Square Hospital, because I had movement in my hand, but restricted movement in my index finger and I didn’t know what else I could do to improve. I went to the Upper Limb Rehabilitation Clinic from Monday to Friday for three weeks, working from 9 am to 5pm on task like picking up and dropping objects at increasing strength, which was quite hard. After that, I started going to the gym to build up my muscular strength.