Delving into the breadth of VR across different sectors

DATE / TIME 28/05/2024
10:00 am - 4:00 pm


Join us for a day that explores the impact of VR across different industry sectors. 

Hear from expert speakers where VR is applied,  including government, NHS, clinical, legal and research, to help people stay in, return to and maintain work.

Over the day, you will learn about the range of expertise, types of VR support available, and practical examples of VR that benefit employers, employees, and their families.


(Remember Members get tickets 50% off!)


Your Speakers:

Iain Downie

Director of Resources, Forces Employment Charity

Iain served as an officer in the British Army between 1990 and 2013 deploying on operations in Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. He retired from military service as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Army Medical Corps having been intimately involved in the development of additional support being provided to those injured in Afghanistan. Since then he has worked in the military charity sector focusing on employment. During six years with Royal British Legion Industries he

managed the project to embed vocational assessment as part of MOD’s transitional support and the Lifeworks programme. More recently, following a short spell as a high school maths teacher, Iain has worked for the Forces Employment Charity that provides employment support to the whole Armed Forces Community through transition and throughout an individual’s working life aiming to match achievement with aspiration.

Session Title: From Military to Civilian – providing through life support to our Armed Forces Community

The presentation will describe some of the challenges faced by military personnel with health and other barriers to employment. It will discuss the support provided through the period of transition from military to civilian employment (from both statutory and charitable sources) and the connections between the two. The session will conclude by highlighting the challenges and successes with this cohort.


Andrea Collin

Senior Occupational Therapist, Northern Rights

An OT graduating in 2011 and working on the DWP Welfare to Work contracts since then. Initially working with a prime provider, Ingeus and now with a sub-contractor and social enterprise company Northern Rights, Andrea works with all clients who present with and want support with their health and wellbeing.

She takes a holistic approach to her work and by using a bio-psychosocial model is able to understand her client’s barriers and their needs thoroughly. Working together they develop goals and actions plans to support the client on their journey towards sustainable employment. Andrea regularly runs group interventions and also works on a 1:1 basis, using a range of local and national organisations to support her working and provide the best possible interactions with her clients.

Session Title: VR in the DWP’s Welfare to Work Sector:  Does our job title reflect our VR work?

Working in welfare to work since 2011 has been an amazing start to my Occupational Therapy career. Having always wanted to work in VR this was a perfect opportunity. Seeing and supporting a wide variety of clients, all working age but with a variety of differing health & wellbeing needs has allowed me to not just focus on one area but use a bio-psycho-social approach. Often working standalone from a health professional perspective in a team of personal development advisor (PDAs) and employment consultants (ECs) to name a few, I consider myself to be a VR practitioner, addressing the needs and barriers of the clients. However, were I to ask one of the many PDAs who support the customers with a view of sustainable employment being the end goal if they were a vocational rehabilitation practitioner their answer would be no. We’ll explore the varying roles in Welfare to Work.


Will Meredew

Senior Policy Adviser, Association of British Insurers

Will Meredew is a Senior Policy Adviser in the ABI’s Health and Protection team. He is responsible for evidencing how health and protection insurance support a healthy workforce and economy, and leading work towards more effective health data sharing between insurers and their customers. Will joined the ABI in 2021 after working in the arts and charity sector where he was responsible for grant writing and policy research. He has an MA in Philosophy from King’s College London.

Session Title: Vocational Rehabilitation and insurance

A summary of findings from recent ABI analysis of 16,000 vocational rehabilitation cases delivered through income protection policies. This evidence points to the valuable role of vocational rehabilitation in promoting good outcomes for the workforce.


Emily Yeardley

Director, Solicitor – Head of Employment Law

Emily is a director of Couchman Hanson Solicitors. She is an experienced solicitor, specialising in employment law, and heads up the employment law team. She is also a mental health first aider and champions wellbeing within the Firm.


Emily has advised both employees and employers on employment law issues spanning from workplace grievances to bringing and defending Employment Tribunal claims and appeals in the Employment Appeal Tribunal. Emily is particularly interested in ill-health and disability in the workplace. She regularly lectures and speaks on the topic to business owners, HR professionals and occupational health practitioners. She also writes case summaries for an occupational health journal.

Session Title: How can VR help to reduce employment law claims?

A presentation looking at how VR can play an important part of case management and managing disability and ill health in the workplace.


Rachel Sibson

Clinical and Operational Lead, Wandsworth community Neuro Team St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 1991, specialised in neurorehabilitation in 1994, and has worked in a range of inpatient and community neurorehabilitation services since then. Completed a Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy in 2000. Has a clinical interest in Stroke and Vocational Rehabilitation, and as such has recently been on expert panels to develop the National Stroke Model and Integrated Community Stroke Services Model (2021 and 2022) and the National Clinical Guidelines for Stroke (published 2023). She has also co-chaired a national steering group to develop a Toolkit and eLearning resource to support clinicians in delivering Vocational Rehabilitation (launched 2023). Rachel is also the chair of the stroke rehab workstream for the London stroke Clinical Network/Integrated Stroke Delivery Network, and lead a London-wide steering group for Vocational Rehabilitation and is an active member of a number of workstreams for stroke rehab and research.

Session Title: Vocational rehabilitation in the NHS – Support to return to work after a stroke

This presentation aims to describe my personal journey into Vocational Rehabilitation and outline initiatives we have undertaken at National and London levels to improve Vocational Rehabilitation for people following a stroke.