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Northampton’s Mayor, who has lived experience of caring for a person with a brain injury, has praised staff at St Andrew’s for their “dedication and patience”.

Councillor Rufia Ashraf, who was elected in May 2021, worked here during her Social Work training and returned for a visit to the Northampton site on Monday, November 15 where she met with key members of the hospital.

The 781st Mayor of Northampton completed a placement on a ward in Kemsley during her time at university and said she was thrilled to be back.

Cllr Ashraf said: “I recall from my time working here just how dedicated the staff were, particularly those who were working in the brain unit. If there was one thing I learnt during my time here, it was just how significant a brain injury can be on your day to day life.

“I’m thrilled to be back here at St Andrew’s and when I first became Mayor, the charity which I hold close to my heart was at the very top of my list of places I wanted to visit and support.”

Now, Cllr Ashraf is a carer to her son who incurred a brain injury after having had meningitis.

She said: “Dedication and patience are the number one characteristics you need when caring for someone with a brain injury and it’s vital to remember that no brain injury is the same. What I am amazed at is how the right treatment and care can really make a huge difference.

“When my son first became unwell we had no way of knowing how he would respond, but now he has surpassed our wildest of dreams and 13 years on he’s now vocally talkative. The milestones he has achieved have been incredible.”

During her visit, Cllr Ashraf met with interim CEO Jess Lievesley at the Main Building, where they chatted about lived experience and plans for the future of the charity.

As they talked, a patient who wanted to say hello briefly joined them.

Jess said: “I’ve known that patient for as long as I’ve been here and his recovery so far has been truly impressive. Three years ago, there’s no way he would have been able to have had that conversation with us. It truly is remarkable what care and attention to someone’s recovery can really achieve.

“I’m so glad Rufia got the opportunity to visit us here at St Andrew’s and she has such fond memories of working here too. It was an honour with meet with her and discuss our plans for the future and how we may collaborate together in the future.”

The rest of the visit, which was organised by Volunteer Manager Dawn Wright, involved meeting patients in the  Creative Garage, a visit to the Academic Department, a strategy update by the Associate Medical Director Dr Paul Wallang and refreshments at Workbridge.

Dawn said: “It’s an honour to have a Mayor who is so interested in St Andrew’s and what we do here. Not only has she got lived experience of being a carer and looking after her son who has a brain injury, but she also has first-hand experience of volunteering, so she’s very passionate about the services we provide. Rufia understands the vital role our volunteers have within St Andrew’s and she only had great things to say about everything we do here.”