Breaking Down Barriers:  How vocational rehabilitation tackles challenges to gaining and maintaining work

DATE / TIME 24/05/2022
10:00 am - 3:00 pm


Join us for our free online spring conference!

Vocational Rehabilitation is

“whatever helps someone with a health problem to stay

at, return to and remain in work: it is an idea and an

approach as much as an intervention or a service.”

Waddell, Gordon, Burton, A. Kim and Kendall, Nicholas A.S. (2008) Vocational rehabilitation – what works, for whom, and when?

Our conference will look at some of the barriers encountered by many practitioners less frequently, how to overcome them and what we can learn from this for our day to day practice.

Made up of a series of bite-sized presentations and a panel discussion pulling the day’s learning together this is an exciting CPD opportunity.

  • Vocational Rehabilitation:   Pushing the norms of vocational rehabilitation for clients with complex presentations:  More than a return to work,  Spencer Rathborne, Associate Vocational Case Manager, Bush & Co
  • Understanding general learning difficulties and what we need to consider as VR practitioners – Sharon Patmore, Chartered Occupational Psychologist
  • Criminal Records: disclosing with confidence, Stuart Miller, Employability Skills Specialist, SDM Training
  • The Marie Trust: Striving to End Homelessness, Dr. Lynn Rae, Tutor, The Marie Trust
  • The Impact of Substance Use Disorder, Shane Creedon, Chief Executive, Regain Recovery Holdings
  • Panel discussion, chaired by Dr Andy Tyerman VRA Trustee.  Andy will be joined by former VRA Chair Dr Andrew Frank and some of our speakers from the day.

Details of session timings will be published shortly.

Book your free place here

Please note that we are not holding our regular monthly webinar or Irish Network meeting this month but are bringing you this bumper free CPD opportunity instead!

You can download a copy of the programme below here.



Vocational Rehabilitation:  Pushing the norms of vocational rehabilitation for clients with complex presentations: More than a return to work

Spencer will explore the complexities of working with young people with complex presentations and barriers to engaging in vocational rehabilitation; those who do not fit the typical profile of the clients we work with but where vocational rehabilitation is intrinsically important to them.

The session will feature two case studies where crime, risk of radicalisation,  gang culture and lack of hope are intrinsic to their everyday lives and will explore the work involved in trying to keep these clients engaged, safe and to give them hope for the future whilst noting typically things never go to plan.

Spencer Rathborne, Associate Vocational Case Manager, Bush & Co

Spencer is an experienced and trusted vocational case manager with over 23 years’ experience working with clients with complex needs including brain injury, learning disabilities,  complex orthopaedic trauma, sensory impairments and mental health.  Spencer has over the last few years predominantly worked with clients who have spinal cord injury and or brain injury and specialises in transition work for young people with very complex needs.

Whilst their injuries and impairments are a clear barriers to rehabilitation,  the majority of Spencer’s clients also present with social and behavioural challenges that push the norms of vocational rehabilitation.

He is regularly instructed to work with young males with offending backgrounds, complex family dynamics, gang culture and radical influences and anger management challenges. Spencer uses his skills and experience to listen and learn, build rapport, observe and open doors; ensuring his clients are safe, encouraged and supported.

He is highly experienced in supporting young people through education and into further vocational studies and employment; assessing clients’ transferable skills, determining vocational preferences and conducting intensive analysis, assessment and job profiling. He has advised employers on equal opportunities and anti-discriminatory practices and has vast experience of working with statutory services, multidisciplinary teams and other agencies such as the probation service.


Understanding general learning difficulties and what we need to consider as VR practitioners

5.1% of people known to have a learning disability are in paid work (NHS Digital, 2021). But people with learning difficulties have the right to work in the same way as those who don’t. So, what needs to be considered by VR practitioners when they’re working with individuals who have learning difficulties in their journey into sustained paid work?

This presentation will give an insight in to the difficulties experienced by those with general learning difficulties. It will include what helps when matching a person to the right work and what helps sustain this work.

Sharon Patmore, Chartered Occupational Psychologist and VRA Trustee

Sharon is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist with over 25 years of experience of supporting people who experience a range of health and disability related difficulties, including mental health. She is an Associate Fellow of the BPS and registered with the Health and Care Professions Council as a Practicing Occupational Psychologist. She is also a Professional Member of the Vocational Rehabilitation Association and a Mental Health First Aid Instructor for MHFA England.

Sharon has experience of working in the Public, Private and Charitable sectors including manufacturing industry, the shipping industry, Police Force, Royal Air Force, Department of Work & Pensions and a major veteran’s charity.


The Marie Trust: Striving to End Homelessness

The presentation will cover all the different services that The Marie Trust offer, as well as providing some case studies on the people we have worked with who have had a successful outcome.

Dr. Lynn Rae, Tutor, The Marie Trust

Before joining the charity, Lynn was working on gaining her PhD in Psychology and teaching psychology at a university.  She joined The Marie Trust in 2014, in the role of Tutor, mostly delivering courses in social sciences – such as psychology, criminology and humanities.  However, she also teaches a basic core skills course as some of our learners have not been in education for some time and need to refresh their core literacy and IT skills.  She also oversees the courses provided in partnership with two Glasgow Colleges, which are delivered on the college campuses.  For the past three years, She has been involved with carrying out homeless crisis intervention work and represent the charity at a multi-agency homeless network that aims to protect the most vulnerable homeless people in the city.


Disclosing with Confidence

Over 11 million people within the UK have a criminal record and at least 735,000 of these are unspent convictions. Understanding if, when and how to disclose a criminal record can be hugely beneficial to an individual. It allows them to move forward in their lives and overcome barriers that they often didn’t believe they could.

In this presentation, we will:

  • Consider the impact a criminal record can have on an individual’s live, both in and outside of the workplace.
  • Describe the difference between a spent and an unspent conviction, as well as list some offences that may be filtered.
  • Compare the 3 levels of a DBS check.

Describe the structure of a disclosure statement and when best to present this to an employer.

Stuart Miller, Employability Skills Specialist, SDM Training Services

With over 25 years’ experience of working across all 3 sectors in demanding frontline roles, Stuart is an experienced Employability Trainer and Coach who delivers in an energetic and engaging manner.

As a soldier in the British Army and an Officer in HM Prison Service he has worked in some of the most demanding environments and been able to do so in a positive and determined manner. With knowledge of how coming into contact with the Criminal Justice System can affect people’s lives generally, he is able to offer support and encouragement to overcome this barrier.

Understanding disclosure and the DBS system has allowed him to provide assistance to individuals and groups within the custodial system and in the community, ensuring they can disclose with confidence.


The Impact of Substance Use Disorder

This presentation will cover the impact substance misuse can have on individuals, families, and their work environment. It will provide a brief explanation of the types of substances commonly used in today’s society. Explain the dangers of stopping abruptly (cold turkey) and difficulties in preventing continued use. It will also explain how to identify symptoms on individuals who may be using substances in a problematic way and how best to deal with this. It will also discuss treatment options and outcomes.

Shane Creedon, Chief Executive, Regain Recovery Holdings Ltd

Shane began his early career working for a major oil company. He was responsible for overseeing software application development and implementation across the many operational affiliates. After several years running his own businesses, he, and his wife, in 2016, opened their first residential treatment centre helping people with substance misuse disorder. Shane has first-hand experience of how substance misuse can affect families, individuals and the devastation it can cause.


Panel Discussion Chair, Dr Andy Tyerman, VRA trustee

Formerly a consultant clinical neuropsychologist in the NHS for 28 years Andy played a lead role in the development and provision of a pioneering specialist community brain injury rehabilitation service in Buckinghamshire. From the start this included “Working Out”, a specialist brain injury vocational rehabilitation programme set up for those unable to return to previous work after ABI. This became an evidence-based example of good practice for Quality Requirement 6 on Vocational Rehabilitation, National Service Framework for Long-term (Neurological) Conditions (Department of Health, 2005).  The programme and Andy went on to win multiple awards including from the NHS (SE Regional Nye Bevan Award 2000; Patient Champion of Year Award, Thames Valley and Wessex Leadership Awards 2015/16) and VRA (e.g. Practitioner of the Year Award, 2012; Rehabilitation Initiative of the Year, 2012).

Andy has been involved in the development of various related national standards and guidelines including the British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine Working Party on Rehabilitation after Acquired Brain Injury (2002-03); External Reference Group for the National Service Framework for Long Term Conditions (2002-05); Inter-Agency Advisory Group on Vocational Rehabilitation after Brain Injury (2003-04); Department of Health NSF Neurology Advisory Group (2005-08); Guideline Development Group on Vocational Assessment and Rehabilitation for People with Long-term Neurological Conditions (2007-10); NICE Head Injury Quality Standards Advisory Committee (2014).  He is I have extensive ABI related multi-disciplinary and multi-agency teaching experience and around 85 assorted publications, many relating to VR.


Panelist: Dr Andrew Frank MBBS, FRCP, DSc (hon), FHEA, PVRA, FRSPH

Andrew Frank was Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine and Rheumatology to Northwick Park Hospital (NPH) 1980-2009 and appointed Visiting Professor, College of Health and Life Sciences, Brunel University London in 1997-2018. He is a trustee and  a past-chair of the Vocational Rehabilitation Association (VRA). At NPH, Andrew provided a general rheumatology and district rehabilitation service including a community rehabilitation team. As Clinical Director of Orthopaedics, Rehabilitation and Rheumatology, he was responsible for setting up the Regional Rehabilitation Unit.

He was President of the British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine (BSRM) 2000-2002 and chaired the BSRM Working party that reported on Vocational Rehabilitation in 2000-3. He was founder Chair of the Vocational Rehabilitation Special Interest Group of the BSRM, a founder Board member of the UK Rehabilitation Council and a founder member of the Council for Work and Health.

He has published widely on spinal pain, wheelchair services, community support for younger physically disabled individuals & assistive technology; as well as vocational rehabilitation. He was awarded an honorary DSc from Brunel University in 2003 and in the same year Harrow’s PCTs Physical Disability Support Team won the MS Society’s Measuring Success Award.

In 2013 he was awarded an Honorary Lifetime Membership of the VRA  and the Rehabilitation First Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement. In 2019 he was awarded an honorary Fellowship of the Royal Society of Public Health.

Andrew joined the VRA as a Trustee in about 2003, becoming Chair in 2009-2013, and stepping down in 2022. He is now a Friend of the VRA.


Book your free place here