Attending vocational placements and partaking in vocational activities not only allows service users to overcome barriers to accessing, maintaining or returning to employment or other useful occupations following an acquired brain injury but provides meaningful activities to participate in.

To highlight current and prospective vocational and educational activities available to service users the vocational notice board has been placed in the central corridor alongside flyers to help make this information more accessible, giving service users the option to research vocational ideas both independently or with support from the vocational advisor. The notice board helps give visual representation of vocational placements and also displays photographs of service users working at these different placements. This notice board is updated regularly to reflect new opportunities and changing schedules within community projects.

A vocational drop in runs once per week on a Monday from 2.30-3pm. This is held in a central location within the hospital and is open to all service users. Service users can come along and explore opportunities, this is also aimed at service users who have previously declined vocational activities but have since changed their mind. The aim of the vocational drop in is to allow vocational activities to be accessible to all service users.

A ‘vocational passport’ has also been created allowing a service users full vocational journey from job search to maintaining a placement to be documented in one booklet. This can be used by service users, staff members and family members to track progress within a vocational placement. Service users can also use sections of this booklet when they are discharged to aid securing employment.

The availability of vocational and educational projects within Graham Anderson House not only allows service users to enhance existing skills and qualifications, it also allows service users that have never gained any education or employment experience previously to achieve, learn new skills and secure vocational placements.

Currently within Graham Anderson House service users are participating in a wide variation of vocational roles including working within riding school stables, cat rehoming centres, charity shops, gardening, woodwork roles, café’s and bike workshops. There are also service users currently studying at college and advancing on literacy skills.

Here is one example of how this has had a positive effect on the life of one of our service users, Edward.

Edward Cairney: My journey back to work so far

"My vocational advisor and I searched the internet for jobs in the retail industry. I have always worked in retail and this is the road I would like to continue on in the future. I saw an opening for a sales/ stockroom assistant in Bernado’s Shettleston Road. Vocational Advisor emailed the store manager to enquire and she invited me for an informal interview. When vocational advisor told me this I was over the moon, so happy, although I was slightly nervous due to my brain injury. This would be my first interview since I had my injury and people can be judgemental sometimes.

On the morning of my interview I tried my best to prepare. I had a shower and a shave and fixed my hair and put on the smartest clothes I had. I feel that a good impression is important and like to take pride in my appearance. I feel that people base their opinion of a shop on staff appearance therefore looking respectable, clean and professional is important. I feel the interview went fine, the manager that interviewed me was very open and friendly and explained everything clearly to me about the job and made me feel at ease. She knew that I had poor hearing and spoke so I could hear what she was saying. My nerves soon disappeared when it was mentioned that I had a brain injury in conversation. She did not make an issue of this or see it as a negative, she also did not ask me for explanations of how it happened which pleased me as sometimes I feel like it’s all I have to talk about with doctors and nurses and hospital workers. The manager simply said to me “are you ok?” I replied “yes” to this and the conversation was over. The manager then invited me back to volunteer in the shop, I got the job!. This was the best news to hear, it was like I automatically felt my confidence coming back. I couldn’t wait to get out and about and meet new people, rather than the same old people within Graham Anderson House.

Getting this volunteer job has benefitted me in so many ways. I have worked my whole life and pride myself in being hardworking and successful in my own right. I feel that work is an important part of life and feel that a brain injury should not stop me from doing what I want to do.

So far working has been going well. I feel it’s a nice working environment, the staff and the manager are lovely and help me with my poor hearing. At the moment there are times where I still need support although that is always there for me.

My hopes for the future is that I can get myself to work independently. Work might seem like a chore to some people although it gives me something to get up for in the morning. I t gives me a purpose in life and lets me do my bit to give back to other people. I see work as a good thing, I feel positive actions and positive thinking will help me get better, as long as I am working, even if its volunteering I’m happy, and hopefully getting better."