Jonny is cooking up a storm with Cedar support

Friday 12 May 2017

Jonny started Cedar in 2015 after acquiring a traumatic brain injury. Speaking about his background before the injury he said: “I did well at school in my GCSE’s and A Levels but the career that most interested me was being a chef. I started working as a dishwasher then gradually worked my way up to commis chef and chef de partie in restaurants locally. At the time of my injury I was a fully trained chef working full time at one of Belfast’s best restaurants, Molly’s Yard, despite having no formal chef qualifications.  I acquired a brain injury in 2013 when I was 24 and spent some time in hospital. My injury has changed my sight and my hearing and has caused me difficulty with mobility, fatigue, motivation, concentration, memory and planning skills. That made me feel very low and very anxious a lot of the time but I am figuring out how to cope.”

After experiencing such an unexpected event Jonny’s life was changed. He was asked about his initial time at Cedar. He stated: “I met with my keyworker and she asked me what my goals were. At that time I was torn between being frustrated as I wanted to just go straight back to work full time but also very anxious about what would happen if that didn’t work out and I failed.  My keyworker helped me to work out steps that I could take towards trying to go back to work. I started off by coming in each week to work with a volunteer who helped me to refresh my cooking skills and get used to being in a kitchen again.

Once my keyworker and I agreed that I was ready to take the next step, they met with my former boss at Molly’s Yard and set up a trial work chefplacement for me. I started off by going in really early in the mornings to help with the prep work and baking before the restaurant opened for lunch service.”

He continued to outline how Cedar has supported him by commenting: “At the start it was about helping me to plan how to build up my confidence and start working on my goal of returning to work one step at a time. One of the first goals I had was just to get to the centre at Balmoral on my own and they did travel training with me until I could do the journey. I hadn’t gone anywhere alone really before this since my injury. They found a volunteer who could work with me one-to-one in the kitchen. He had been a chef himself and had survived a stroke so we got on really well and he understood me perfectly. They helped to set up my placement at Molly’s by making sure it would be safe for me there and working with my supervisor to arrange my hours and by helping me to buy new knives and my chef’s uniform.

Cedar have helped me to build on this at a pace that I can manage by supporting me to gradually set myself new goals and targets.  As a result, I am now in paid work at Molly’s Yard for two busy shifts per week. I work alongside my supervisor in exactly the same role as I had before my injury and love being back there as part of the team. Cedar helped to get me benefits advice so that I would be aware of how working would affect my benefits.  I still cook in Cedar on a Friday too but now I have to take charge of menu planning and organising what we are going to do each week instead of just following instructions and I hope to maybe mentor another service user who wants to develop skills in cooking. Without Cedar, I would either have rushed straight into full time work without thinking about how I would manage the fatigue or have remained very isolated and dependent on others. With the support of Cedar, I have reached every goal I have set myself so far and that has really helped me to feel confident, optimistic about my future and much less anxious. I have always been a very determined person once I set my mind to something and that has really helped me to meet my goals so far.”

The team at Cedar would like to congratulate Jonny on all the progress he has made since starting as a service user. His achievements are evident and we wish him all the best in on his future culinary progression.

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