Alex’s enterprising idea to help sufferers

Alex Brown with Art for the Brain partner Jane Dawson in the studio where the classes take place every Monday.
Alex Brown with Art for the Brain partner Jane Dawson in the studio where the classes take place every Monday.

A university student who lives in Morpeth has been motivated by a family illness to set-up an initiative that is helping to change the lives of those affected by debilitating conditions for the better.

Alex Brown had become acutely aware of the impact that dementia, brain injury and other serious conditions has on sufferers’ mood and behaviour and the resulting social interaction issues.

The undergraduate on the entrepreneurial business management course at Northumbria University developed an idea for art classes, which would be open to sufferers and those who care for them.

Once there, artistic activity would provide attendees with the tools and space to express themselves freely in ways they may have felt unable to before – providing some therapeutic relief.

A chance meeting at a Dementia Friends event meant Alex soon acquired a business partner who was keen to start the same idea and Doctor of Psychology and former Northumbria University Postgraduate Student, Jane Dawson, also had a studio that they could use.

Art for the Brain was born and Alex began seeking funding to help make the idea a reality.

The Greggs Foundation, a grant making charity, was the first supporter and was instrumental both in helping to get the initiative off the ground and in securing a starter series of classes, generously donating £1,000.

The first classes in Durham are now on-going every Monday.

They are well-attended and Alex is now looking to progress the idea further.

The 20-year-old said: “You can see similarities between the two conditions – dementia and brain injury – but they are fundamentally different at their core and they would be best served by separate classes.

“Similarly, from seeing the results we are getting, we believe that the classes can provide a valuable form of escape and therapy for many more patients, such as those affected by stroke and trauma.

“We are now fund-raising, with our long-term aim being to get tailored classes for different conditions going every day of the week and help even more people.”

He added: “My gran had recently been diagnosed with dementia when I was thinking of enterprise ideas and I was becoming increasingly aware of the unique and difficult challenges that this was presenting, not just for my gran but for all of us close to her.”

The team of Art for the Brain founders and volunteers is now working hard to reach the next funding goal by tackling the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. For more information and to make a donation, visit www.gofundme.com/trecking