Before my injury I would say I was a hard-working and positive person, albeit shy and somewhat short on confidence.
I was working as an advisor in the job centre, in the department of ‘Work & Pensions’. For this, I was interviewing people for benefits suitability, working with NI and client details etc. I worked here for fifteen years – from when I left university up until the injury.
The injury happened in 2005 when I was involved in a car crash. There were four lanes of traffic; I was in the second lane where I was trying to overtake a lorry that was in the first. Unfortunately, the lorry driver couldn’t see my car because of their blindspot and as a result, he side-swatted me. I was shunted into the third lane where another vehicle had hit the right hand side of my car. From that, my head was knocked into the driver’s panel. I passed out for a few minutes and later woke up in the middle of the motorway.
The ambulance came and took me to the hospital for an observation. They found that the temporal bone on the right side of my head was damaged which meant that my hearing and my balance have suffered a lot from the injury.
I remember feeling upset and angry at the time. I was angry at both myself and the lorry driver.
For three or four years after the crash, I was on capacity benefit but I was taken off the benefit because they thought I could get back into employment. From there, I decided to go the job centre who then put me in touch with Attend in early 2012.
When I started at Attend, I was here on Monday and Tuesdays. On Mondays, we would have sessions and talks which were administered by either Kieran and Anthony. I learnt a lot from these sessions. I learnt how to project myself, overcome barriers and push myself forward. Therefore, I would say that Attend helped me to overcome some of the confidence issues that I always had.
Kieran also helped me a great deal with building up my CV. This was one of the main benefits of me coming to Attend because I didn’t have a clue on how to write a CV – mine wasn’t very concise before. I also had mock interviews and was taught career development skills.
I like the fact that it’s quite informal here because I felt happy to bounce ideas off with staff and other clients. Being with the other clients in the same room helps because I know we’ve all experienced similar incidents. You start to feel that you’re not alone and often, you can fall into that feeling of loneliness after such an incident, which happened with me. When I was on the capacity benefits, I would be waking up at 9am, having my breakfast and wondering what else I could do for the entire day. I didn’t have to do that when I was coming to Attend. I had a lot more structure and a better daily routine.
Currently, I am working at Sainsbury as a ‘Code Controller’. I got the job two weeks after I had a mock interview with Kieran who helped me to prepare for what type of questions I could be asked. My duties include stock taking and regulating foods that are soon going to expire.
I really like the team there – there’s a good team ethos. I feel accepted there too because it’s a disability-friendly environment. This was something I thought was lacking at my job in civil services, so in this aspect, I believe Sainsbury’s are better. I know it might not be the most exciting, or well-paid job, but I see it as an experience and as a learning step. I am able to develop my communication skills and so on.