European Social Fund (ESF) case study - Inclusion Works (Two)

Jonnie Little suffered a serious brain injury in a workplace accident in 2010, but has returned to work with the support of the Cedar Foundation "Inclusion Works" project which is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy.

Jonnie Little's story

Jonnie, aged 31, tells the story of his recovery and the help he received through the ESF supported project.

Jonnie Little
Jonnie with wife, Arlene, and their baby Skye


The injury

"I was working full-time in an engineering firm when I suffered a serious brain injury, after which I was unable to work but was always keen to return to paid employment."

The impact

"I had difficulty managing tiredness, in planning and organising my time and I suffered from memory loss. I struggled to structure my week in order to avoid being overloaded, learning new tasks was very difficult and I found myself becoming anxious and stressed."

Key challenge

"I knew that a key challenge was to manage the return to full-time work, while at the same time managing the effects of brain injury.

Support from Cedar Foundation

"The Cedar Foundation came in contact with me in January 2011 and I met with them every week to talk about my problems. Cedar supported me in many and varied ways."

Phased return

Jonnie continues: "Cedar proposed a phased return to the workplace, which helped me keep a record of daily and weekly activities. This enabled me to monitor my physical and mental stamina, as well as allow Cedar to chart progress."

Timetable of tasks

Jonnie added: "Together with Cedar, we drew up a structure which could be applied to each working day and week in the form of a timetable of tasks and scheduled breaks - this was so essential to manage fatigue."


Jonnie hailed Cedar as an important bridge with other stakeholders: "Cedar liaised with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to help complete Risk Assessments, which meant that everyone (individual, employer and HSE) was confident about task allocation.

"Cedar also supported me in gaining new skills; in advance of a forklift training course, Cedar provided information to the tutor about adaptations and training approaches in order to give me the best chance to be successful. Cedar also prepared me for the course which helped reduce any nerves!"

Awareness training

Jonnie added: "Cedar delivered awareness training to my colleagues which was specific to Brain Injury."

Back to full time employment

Jonnie concludes: "In addition, Cedar worked with my Occupational Therapist, family and employer to achieve a managed approach to a change in my job role. This was so important, because this change was impacting on my stress levels. I'm now working full-time, five days per week in a job that I enjoy and feel confident in."

European Social Fund Northern Ireland logo
European Social Fund Northern Ireland logo


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