Gina's Story

Friday 17 November 2017

For 19 years Gina Giles, from East Belfast, worked in the Punjana factory off the Albertbridge Road. Gina was born with tunnel vision and severe hearing loss, she wears two hearing aids and is registered blind. However, in 2008 due to her deteriorating eyesight she was unable to continue her work and had to leave her job. This not only knocked Gina’s confidence but also took her away her daily routine that had been a big part of her life for so long.

She joined Cedar’s Belfast Inclusion Works programme in May 2015 after being referred by the Belfast Trust’s Sensory Support Team. After meeting her case worker Helen Savage they identified a number of aims including developing IT skills and researching volunteering opportunities.

Gina commented “On my first day at Cedar I was so nervous I was nearly sick, I was so shy. Cedar helped me to overcome my shyness and improve my communication skills when interacting with other people. I took part in a number of social activities such as cookery, boccia, on yer bike and the walking group all of which I enjoyed very much”

As well as helping Gina to interact with others Cedar supported her to improve her existing IT skills and she gained an IT Qualification. Creative writing was a particular interest of Gina’s and her new skills enabled her to complete an online creative writing course. Joe Cash Cedar’s IT Training Officer also introduced her to a new app called Todays Meet which enabled her to follow the lesson more accurately.

In January 2017 Gina began a voluntary work placement in Action on Hearing Loss as an Admin Assistant. Prior to her beginning her placement she engaged in travel training where Helen taught her how to travel on the bus from East Belfast to the City Centre allowing her to get to work independently.

“Before I was with Cedar I would never have been confident enough to get the bus by myself but after doing the training I now travel to my job every Friday.”

Helen also helped Gina to familiarise herself with the Action on Hearing Loss building and ensured her PC was equipped with accessible features. She is now a permanent volunteer with Action on Hearing Loss and as well as her administration duties she assists other staff members with promotion and outreach work in outside venues such as libraries to raise awareness of the charity. She has also written a poem which was published in the Action on Hearing Loss magazine.

Gina’s Mum commented “Cedar has given her so much confidence and gives her a routine to get up in the morning. She is a lot happier and just loves Cedar”

Inclusion Works is person-centred service supporting individuals to design their own programmes around their needs and aspirations, building confidence and independence. to meet their employability and inclusion goals. It is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and all five local Health and Social Care Trusts.

If you require any additional information about how to get involved with the service please contact or 028 9061 2424 or 028 2565 9111

Outta my depth

 Oh, Flaming Heck, I am outta my depth,

 Sounds are so far away,

 Lip-reading is so hard.

 Oh, Flaming Heck, I am outta my depth,

 My heart sinks like a ship on the bottom of the ocean,

 I want to run outta the room,

 But I am frozen to the spot.

 Oh, Flaming Heck, I am outta my depth,

 I need to grip the table,

 I need to say that I made a mistake,

 And also say 'Sorry, this is not for me!'

 Oh, Flaming Heck, I am outta my depth,

 Others notice, letting me know that I am not alone,

 They also can be outta their depth too,

 So I stop being outta my depth soon.

 By Gina Giles© 2015




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