A BRAIN-DAMAGED man who relies on a charity to help him with his rehabilitation has started a petition to save its under-threat Oxfordshire branch.

Andrew Baker, who lives in Didcot, started the online petition to try to save Headway’s Kennington branch after reading how it might have to close in the Oxford Mail last month.

There are fears over the future of the brain injury charity’s Bagley Wood Road base following county council cuts to funding, despite it receiving a National Lottery Big Lottery Fund donation of £450,000.

The 27-year-old said: “It's been a valuable and important part of my rehabilitation for my brain injury. If it wasn’t for Headway Oxfordshire, I wouldn’t have been able to make such big leaps and bounds in my recovery. Thanks to them many aspects of my life have improved.

“The NHS is limited anyway. I came to Headway because it’s really specialised.”

When he was born he spent his first days fighting for life in the John Radcliffe’s special baby care unit.

He couldn’t speak until he was six-years-old, and aged eight he suffered further damage after a football struck his head at school, resulting in major surgery at the Radcliffe Infirmary.

He was only diagnosed with a brain injury in 2010, after an MRI scan revealed the extent of the damage.

In 2012, he started using the activity and rehabilitation centre at Headway every Tuesday.

Mr Baker attends physiotherapy sessions, tai chi and yoga to rebuild his strength, plus cognitive and social skill workshops. He said the sessions built his confidence and helped him to secure a part-time job at Didcot Sainsbury’s.

He said: “If the county council cuts the funding for Headway, it would be a huge, devastating loss. Headway is a lifeline for so many people under its care, and for many socialisation is a huge part of that. Without it we would feel more isolated and lonely.”

Mr Baker is no stranger to fundraising, having set up Play2Give in 2007, which raises cash for Oxford Children’s Hospital and other causes.

So far he has raised £1,800 for Headway.

He said: “Headway is one of those charities that people don’t necessarily think about, it’s not a high profile one. With brain injuries people don’t always think – because you’re not in a wheelchair – that you have got a disability. Hopefully this will help raise its profile and sway the local government.”

Mr Baker said he had emailed local councillors, MPs and Prime Minister David Cameron with his concerns.

Chief executive of Headway Oxfordshire, Jamie Miller, said: “It’s great that he feels passionate enough to do this about the support that he’s had from us. We are all behind him.”

Paul Smith, spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We’re in our sixth year of making savings and by 2020 we will have completed a full decade of having to make cuts.

“We want to make sure that people who can’t help themselves are looked after. In particular we are thinking about children at risk of abuse and neglect and adults who need help with washing, dressing, eating and other personal care.

To sign the petition, visit http://chn.ge/1QuwQ8B