Employment

Nearly half of brain injury survivors claim benefits – without enough support to get back to work

The Big Issue Group has partnered with brain injury charity SameYou to support survivors and their loved ones back into work with the help of specialist job coaches from Big Issue Recruit

brain injuries

People need more support from employers to get back into work after a brain injury. Image: Pexels

Nearly half of brain injury survivors are forced to claim benefits because they are left without enough support to get back to work, new research has found.

Polling from the Big Issue Group and brain injury charity SameYou found that a third of people felt they did not feel ready to return to their jobs after their brain injuries.

Of these, more than half (53%) of survivors said they had to return to work for financial reasons.

Around 46% of survivors have needed to claim benefits since their brain injury, and over two-thirds (68%) of these people say their benefits were not enough to cover their regular bills and expenses.

SameYou was founded by Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke and her mother Jenny to support brain injury survivors and their loved ones through the recovery process.

Clarke suffered two life-threatening brain haemorrhages while starring as Daenerys Targaryen in the hit HBO series. She’s been interviewed in this week’s Big Issue, out today (10 June), about the difficulties of returning to work after experiencing a brain injury.

“When you have a brain injury, because it alters your sense of self on such a dramatic level, all of the insecurities you have going into the workplace quadruple overnight,” Clarke told the Big Issue.

Jenny added: “This research clearly highlights the many complex challenges that people who have experienced a brain injury face when going back to work. Survivors have reported pressures to return before they’re ready, as well as problems with financial difficulties, benefits and even an increased risk of homelessness.”

As the Big Issue has reported, benefits are too low for people to afford essentials and disability benefits are difficult to access, heightening stress for brain injury survivors.

It follows the government’s recent proposals to drive people with long-term health conditions into work through increasingly punitive methods. Both the Conservatives and Labour have pledged to increase the number of people with health conditions in work.

Big Issue Group and SameYou want a supportive approach. The organisations are partnering to support brain injury survivors and their loved ones back to work. Big Issue Recruit, the Big Issue Group’s specialised careers service, will introduce specialist job coaches to support individuals on a one-to-one basis during their search for employment and beyond.

Jenny added: “We’re proud to be partnering with Big Issue Recruit, supporting brain injury survivors and their carers, with their return to work by building their confidence and finding the right employment pathways for them.”

The organisations are also calling on employers to better meet the needs of people returning to work after a brain injury. 

Nearly a third (27%) of brain injury survivors said that they felt pressure from an employer to return to work before they were ready.

One in five survivors who returned to work rated the support they received from their employers as ‘poor’ and over 50% of survivors had to make some changes to either their role, their employer or the hours on returning to work.

Paul Cheal, chief executive of Big Issue Group, said: “There is a clear need to create more support and clear pathways for those returning to work after experiencing a brain injury. 

“We are pleased to extend the work of Big Issue Recruit to a wider group of people who face barriers to work – brain injury survivors and carers of people who have experienced a brain injury. These are often a forgotten group of people in society.”

The new partnership between SameYou and the Big Issue Group aims to help survivors like Emilia cope with the often overwhelming prospective of returning to work after their brain injury. 61% of respondents to their survey said they would have benefitted from a job coach to ease their return to work.

Big Issue Recruit supports people who face barriers to work with finding sustainable employment, and this partnership will expand this support to brain injury survivors and their carers. Individuals will work one-to-one with expert job coaches to get back to work. Big Issue Recruit works with candidates, pre, during and post-employment to ensure this employment is truly sustainable.

Cheal added: “Our ambition is not only to highlight the challenges that brain injury survivors encounter in returning to work or finding a new role, but also to work together to bolster the support we offer candidates by adding a job coach to the Big Issue Recruit team to specialise in this area of need.” 

If you would like to sign-up to use the service as a candidate or to learn more about how your business can support people with barriers to employment into work, visit jobs.bigissue.com, email jobs@bigissue.com or call 0207 526 3200.

Read the full interview with Emilia Clarke in The Big Issue magazine on sale from today (June 10).

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