Case Studies

V is for Volunteering – Francis Coburn

Type: Case Study

Volunteering is a tool which many people use to support self management. Francis shares her case study and explains what volunteering means to her.

Meet Francis

Francis is 62 years old and lives with an acquired brain injury and chronic symptoms of fatigue and memory loss.  In 2003, Francis ended up in a coma which resulted in surgery as her brain was inflamed due to encephalitis, a rare condition which affects approximately 4000 people in the UK each year.

Since then, Francis has been trying to find an environment where she can learn how to rediscover herself, or more importantly learn to adapt, and get to know herself as a person who lives with long term conditions. After many attempts, Francis finally found an environment where she is happy and feels comfortable, this is with Momentum Skills, based in Templeton Business Centre.

Francis refers to this group as a hub which provides her with the opportunity to learn how to socialise with others and to acquire new skills – Francis has certificates from college but can’t remember any of the content of what she learnt. Through the support offered by the Employment/ Personal Development Officer, Francis is beginning to recognise her aptitudes which include coordinating outfits (processing visual data) and her people skills (a natural in supporting and listening to others). She is currently learning computer/ IT skills, with her next goal being able to use the office in her house and be able to use a smartphone.

What self management means for Francis

Francis tries to make her life as simple as possible, breaking down everyday tasks into structured, simple procedures that help her to live better and independently. She has a white board in her house, on which she uses different colours to represent different jobs she has to do that day. Francis writes a journal every day and finds this a useful tool to prompt her memory when she is reflecting back on what she did earlier that day or the day before. Furthermore, if she goes shopping she keeps the receipts so she can keep track of her spending as well as a footprint on where she has been, what shops she has visited and what she has purchased.


Attending Momentum Skills has given Francis the confidence to try volunteering – building on her people skills and interests, as she loves to help others and make people feel comfortable.

Francis volunteers at the Maternity Cafe in the Southern General, Glasgow. Originally she was anxious on how to work the tills and machines, but the tills weren’t an issue. Francis’s brain injury means she has an inability to endure loud noises so the coffee machine wasn’t well suited, however it is obvious her skills are in customer service.

Francis finds volunteering an excellent self management tool as not only has it allowed her to learn what it is she is good at, it has helped her live better by realising she is a person who can be a part of society. Volunteering makes Francis feel like she is helping others and is not just a liability, increasing her feeling of self-worth and well-being.

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