Key findings from the return to work survey

Survivors and their carers have laid bare the turmoil of returning to work after brain injury in a survey conducted by SameYou and the Big Issue, revealing that a THIRD struggled with employment after trauma.

More than 300 respondents took part in the research as SameYou and the Big Issue launch a new partnership to provide job coaches to help support brain injury survivors and their loved ones with sustainable pathways to help with their return to the workplace.

SameYou was founded by actor Emilia Clarke MBE and her mother, Jenny Clarke MBE, to support brain injury survivors with their recoveries.

Emilia survived two life-threatening brain haemorrhages while starring as Daenerys Targaryen in HBO series Game of Thrones. She’s been interviewed in this week’s Big Issue, out today, about the difficulties of returning to work after experiencing a brain injury.

The new partnership aims to help survivors cope with the often overwhelming prospective of returning to work after their brain injury. 61% of respondents to the survey said they would have benefitted from a job coach to ease their return to work.

The survey revealed:

  • A third of respondents felt they did not feel ready to return to their jobs post their brain injuries. And of these 53% of survivors said they had to return for financial reasons.
  • 77% returned to work within 12 months after experiencing a brain injury – of these 53% of survivors had to return for financial reasons.
  • 49 of 289 survivors were at risk of becoming homeless following their injury. 27% of whom were made homeless and 69% of whom felt becoming homeless was a consequence of their injury.
  • 56% of survivors have struggled financially since the injury. 89% say their financial struggles were a consequence of their injury.
  • The top five impairments that the respondents still experience are: Fatigue – 81%; Cognitive changes – 55%; Mood changes – 45%; Communication changes – 42%; Arm or leg weakness – 38%
  • 46% of survivors have needed to claim benefits since their brain injury. Over two-thirds (68%) of these say their benefits were not enough to cover their regular bills and expenses.
  • 27% of brain injury survivors said that they felt pressure from an employer to return to work before they were ready.
  • 1 in 5 survivors who returned to work rated the support they received from their employers as ‘Poor’ and over 50% of survivors had to make some changes to either their role, their employer or the hours on returning to work, as a result of their brain injury.

Emilia told the Big Issue: “When you have a brain injury, because it alters your sense of self on such a dramatic level, all of the insecurities you have going into the workplace quadruple overnight.

“The first fear we all had was: ‘Oh my God, am I going to get fired? Am I going to get fired because they think I’m not capable of completing the job?’”

Emilia’s brain haemorrhages occurred between filming seasons, so only a handful of the team working on the show were told straight away and she was back at work weeks after her first brain injury.

In front of thousands of people and cameras, she found herself fearing that she was dying of another brain haemorrhage because of the stress and pressure. She remembers thinking: “Well, if I’m going to die, I better die on live TV.”

Big Issue Recruit supports people who face barriers to work with finding sustainable employment, and this partnership will expand this support to brain injury survivors and their carers. Individuals will work one-to-one with expert job coaches to get back to work. Big Issue Recruit works with candidates, pre, during and post-employment to ensure this employment is truly sustainable.

Jenny said: “This research clearly highlights the many complex challenges that people who have experienced a brain injury face when going back to work. Survivors have reported pressures to return before they’re ready, as well as problems with financial difficulties, benefits and even an increased risk of homelessness.

“We’re proud to be partnering with Big Issue Recruit, supporting brain injury survivors and their carers, with their return to work by building their confidence and finding the right employment pathways for them.”

Paul Cheal, CEO of the Big Issue Group, said: “There is a clear need to create more support and clear pathways for those returning to work after experiencing a brain injury.

“We are pleased to extend the work of Big Issue Recruit, to a wider group of people who face barriers to work - brain injury survivors and carers of people who have experienced a brain injury. These are often a forgotten group of people in society.

“By partnering with SameYou, our ambition is not only to highlight the challenges that brain injury survivors encounter in returning to work or finding a new role, but also to work together to bolster the support we offer candidates by adding a Job Coach to the Big Issue Recruit team to specialise in this area of need.”

To find out more about Big Issue Recruit and the pathways it offers people who face barriers into work, or if you’re an employer that would like to be part of those pathways, visit

Big Issue article

Photo credit: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Before you go, help us spread the word...