Happy New Year to our Members from our Chair

Happy New Year for 2018!! Greetings from the Trustees of the Vocational Rehabilitation Association (VRA). As Chair, I would like to extend the happiest of New Year greetings to you and yours. May 2018 be personally and professionally fruitful for all our members.

As professionals in the VRA, we find ourselves, we hope, in an interesting time of change.  The recognition of the challenges that the disabled community experiences in the world of work, has never been so newsworthy. We have the objective to keep the profile high on the agenda of not only government, but also with other key players in this complex role of supporting people with disabilities and long-term conditions to return and remain at work.

The government’s green paper published in November 2017 has provided a strong argument for the need for change.  It has provided statistical data about the current situation, recognised that changes are required and that such changes will take some considerable time.  Importantly, it also recognises that organisations like the VRA are integral in changing attitudes of key players.  The paper says “To achieve enduring reform we also need to change attitudes and behaviours, as well as services, so that prevailing culture across society supports disabled people and people with long-term health conditions in realising their aspirations.” Consultation outcome Work, health and disability green paper: improving lives Updated 30 November 2017.

There is a massive amount of work to do, as is set out within the document, and it is extremely encouraging to see the high importance placed on how employers deliver on this initiative.  I can assure you however that without the steadfast support of the members of the VRA and other charities with similar missions and goals, the government will not achieve its targets.

You can find the document here.


During 2017 the VRA embarked upon a programme of webinars once we had fully launched our new and improved website, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Chris Bartlett.  We have produced seven 1-hour sessions presented by specialist members in their area of expertise.  The feedback has been hugely positive.  Our next webinar is January 30th where Sue Carty will be presenting on the European Union General Data Protection Regulations.  During 2018 we invite you to get in touch with us if you have a topic that you believe our members will welcome.

NEWSLETTER & Social Media

As well as webinars, we have ramped up our newsletter production and have initiated a campaign on social media to raise the awareness of the VRA whilst highlighting topical issues around VR.  Ceri is leading our trustees to become the best social media geeks we can be.  We ask you to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook and perhaps join in or start some discussions on our LinkedIn group.


Last year we were pleased to have had John Pilkington, immediate past Chair of VRA, also Chair the Together Conference committee.  That event was very well received and as such we are extremely hopeful that the 3 organisations will come together in 2019 or 2020 for the 3rd International Together Conference.  Most recently in November we joined forces with the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) Specialist Section – Work and produced a study day entitled New Approaches in the World of Work.  It was truly inspiring to see how technology was supporting the work of VR.


We are delighted to be working closely again in 2018 with the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) Specialist Section – Work; a study day is already in the planning. We are also looking forward to a stronger relationship with Society of Occupational Medicine and many others.  We already have an influential list of Friends of VRA, and we are adding to that list whilst gaining invaluable support and industry influence through this group.

In addition, we hope to increase the involvement of our corporate supporters and The Friends of VRA to make 2018 stand out as a demonstrably productive 2018 for VR and our members, but mostly for the client groups that we serve. These are our New Year’s resolutions; can we count on you making a resolution to make a difference in the VRA during 2018?

Checkout this page to see who’s who.

Achieving the vision set out in the green paper will be quite a challenge! That is why, at VRA, we invite vocational consultants, case management professionals, employers, solicitors and insurers alike to join us in membership so that we can have the strongest voice possible to aid in making these changes happen. Being a strong, forward-focusing organisation is the best way for us to promote cultural change and thereby to support our vocational professionals of the future to provide positive outcomes, to the community of people with disabilities, to access work and the rewards thereof.

Shirley Morrison-Glancy, Deputy VRA Chair, will be in contact to keep us updated on our upcoming webinars, the next of which is 30th January.  Watch this space for news of more events throughout 2018.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Association is the leading voice for VR professionals along the pathway to good work. Whatever your expertise and particular focus, look to the VRA to be your professional organisation and industry leader.

All the best to you in 2018, please join us this year!

Deborah Edwards BSN, CDMP