An expert in helping people into employment by raising their self confidence levels and training in job ready skills has used her knowledge of the care sector to start a new strand to her business which has led to her employing one of her trainees.

Kelly Oliver Dougall started Cygnet North East after working with a brain injury charity as a community counsellor and care expert. Previously, Kelly from Whitley Bay specialised in education, skills and health and social care. Now, she is linking her skills together to form the new branch of her business caring predominantly for those with brain injuries covering North Tyneside, Newcastle and Northumberland.

Kelly has incorporated into her Wallsend based business three distinct sectors – skills training, specialist care and the well-being of her clients creating a one stop shop to help people reach their full potential, increase empowerment and receive the best possible care. The business has just received its approval from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England.

One client who came to Cygnet NE for job ready skills training after suffering a brain injury was John McDonald from Tynemouth.

“John took part in our employability skills course as he was unemployed after an illness caused problems with his memory and general health,” said Kelly. “John was suffering from short term memory loss, constant tiredness and a lack of confidence. Unfortunately, he didn’t recognise that his symptoms were related to his brain injury despite working in the field for many years because it’s very hard to spot the symptoms in yourself.

“Through experience and training, I recognised some of the symptoms associated with brain injury and worked with him to tackle the issues he was experiencing.”

John took part in a wide range of activities including CV preparation, creative writing, mindfulness and confidence building exercises. At the end of Kelly’s training, he was offered a short-term job at a local college. That role however was only temporary and subsequent discussions with Kelly led to John being taken on by Cygnet NE, where he now works as Head of Care.

When he left his career as an engineer in the Merchant Navy, John retrained and took up a number of roles within the care industry. He worked for a national cancer charity looking after people with terminal illness and he also had the unusual role of a missionary in Eastern Europe. The new opportunity with Cygnet NE has come at the right time for John:

“The care work we do at Cygnet NE is unlike any I’ve done before. It’s backed up by HR experts and care professionals and it is centred totally on looking after the client. I feel that I have been given a great chance to pay back for all of the care I was given when I had my brain injury.”

Kelly is now looking for more care staff who have experience of helping people with brain injuries.

“One client told me that I should name the business “Kelly’s Heroes” and I was flattered,” she said. “He explained that the care we had given to him was exceptional and I put that down to the quality and calibre of my staff. We have low turnover of staff, high morale and happy clients. I feel that this is the best career move I’ve made and Cygnet NE is here to help more and more people as we develop and grow.”