A unique partnership between the Trust’s Vocational Rehabilitation Programme, based at the Wolfson Centre at Queen Mary’s Hospital, and Barclays Bank has seen more of our neurorehab patients get back into work.

The partnership was formed after Dr Shai Betteridge, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist, and Melony Trott, Highly Specialist Occupational Therapist, were invited by Barclays to contribute to the bank’s Disability Awareness Agenda.

Barclays were keen to improve tolerance, awareness and reintegration for their employees with neurological conditions (e.g. people who have suffered a stroke), so they approached Shai and Melony about setting up an annual training day for their senior managers.

Through the project, Shai and Melony formed a relationship with Barclays and agreed to come in and deliver disability awareness training for their senior managers. In return, Barclays host four career development days a year for our patients at their head office in Canary Wharf.

Shai and Melony said: “Many of our patients undergoing rehabilitation are keen to get back into work, but can often struggle with low confidence when it comes to applying for jobs. For instance, changes to their speech and cognitive/motor-skills or a fear of being judged can lead to patients believing they won’t be successful at interview.

“We do try and convince them otherwise, but they think we’re just being nice! Which is why when the opportunity to partner with Barclays arose, we saw it as a perfect way for patients to rebuild their confidence – they get advice and feedback, and a practice interview, from senior staff at one of the UK’s biggest companies.”

Their training has been a welcome addition to the bank’s Disability Awareness Agenda and they were recently invited to appear on their in-house podcast to speak about their work.

“We are delighted with the partnership”, Melony and Shai added, “It’s certainly the only one of its kind in the country we’ve come across. The career days have really helped our patients see a future and give them a taste of the real world again.”

The partnership is now entering its third year, and Melony and Shai estimate that they’ve trained 50 senior managers and over 80 of their patients have undergone training with Barclays, with many of them going on to find employment.

One such example is Mark Palmer, who was a patient at St George’s and then the Wolfson in 2016.

Mark, who ran his own gardening business, was injured at work when a tree branch hit him on the head and was air lifted to St George’s for treatment. The last rites were performed but Mark thankfully pulled through and was referred to the Wolfson for his rehabilitation.

It was there that Mark was encouraged by the team to attend one of the training days.

Mark said: “I was sceptical at first but when I arrived it was clear to me that Barclays’ staff were giving their all to the process. I took part in a practice interview with someone I later discovered was their Head of Risk.

“At the time I was lacking in confidence and since I had previously run my own business, I had no qualifications. But Barclays helped me to see that I was qualified and did have skills; I just needed to learn how to articulate them.”

Six months later, Barclays contacted Melony to ask if she knew of anyone who would be interested in applying for their apprenticeship scheme, and she recommended Mark.

Hundreds of people from across the UK applied, and after an assessment day, Mark was offered a place. “I was gobsmacked when I got the call as I’d only gone to get in some practice! I started out at Barclays in Mayfair, and whilst going back to work was hard at first as I still struggle with fatigue, I’m really enjoying the experience.

“The team at the Wolfson have helped to turn my life around over the last few years. They care about all their patients, but it’s more than that – they are empathetic as well as sympathetic. They gave me the hope along with the space and patience that I needed.”