Larne man shares experiences at conference in Germany

James McCullough and Katrina Black who both have brain injuries, recently spoke at a European conference, in Germany, on how they have been providing peer support to other people with disabilities. INLT 13-650-CON cedar
James McCullough and Katrina Black who both have brain injuries, recently spoke at a European conference, in Germany, on how they have been providing peer support to other people with disabilities. INLT 13-650-CON cedar
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LARNE man James McCullough was a guest speaker at a two-day conference in Olsberg, Germany recently.

James, from Glynn Road, suffers from a brain injury which he acquired in a work-related accident in 2005.

The 46-year-old represented The Cedar Foundation and told delegates of his involvement with the charity’s social networking programme.

Previously, Mr. McCullough received support from Cedar’s brain injury service which aims to enable people surviving brain injury to achieve personal goals such as gaining qualifications, returning to work and having an active life.

James works as a seasonal tour guide at Patterson’s Spade Mill and has recently secured a part-time position as a support worker ‘driver’ with Cedar.

He is part of Cedar’s social networking programme which helps people with disabilities to meet up, try new activities and develop new friendships.

James has completed peer support training and his involvement in the ‘We Empower uS bH’ project has shown European partners how it can be used to empower others with disabilities.

He told the conference: “Since completing the training, I have been supporting two groups on a monthly basis, one to attend a local pub quiz and the other to be involved in social activities such as bowling, cinema and nights out. In addition, I offer one-to-one support to a man with a brain injury; I help him to attend social activities as he has memory difficulties.

“If I have learnt anything since acquiring my brain injury, it’s to be open to new opportunities. Without this attitude, I wouldn’t have progressed to where I am today and this is something I hope to share with those I support through the peer volunteer programme.”

Funded through the European Commission’s Leonardo da Vinci programme, the ‘We Empower uS bH’ project involves eight partners from five countries across Europe.

The project brings together people with disabilities, self-help organisations and vocational rehabilitation centres in order to jointly develop a support concept for young people with spina bifida and hydrocephalus.

For further information on the We Empower uS bH project, visit the website www.we-empower-us.eu or contact Peter Wilson at Cedar on 028 9061 2424.