Brian O’Donnell, who works as a Porter in the Hospital, will have his own personal story featuring front and centre of NALA’s (the National Adult Literacy Agency) ‘Taking The First Steps’ campaign. The campaign aims to support people who have difficulty with reading, writing, maths or technology to get the help they need. It will include national and regional radio advertising, video and digital advertising, social media, outdoor posters, as well as lots of interviews and independent media coverage.

Speaking on the eve of the campaign launch Brian says that he is delighted to be part of such a campaign.

“It’s actually my birthday today. I’m 48, so to be able to share this story with people today of all days is an unbelievable feeling. This is such a big thing for me. On Monday I wrote my first ever note to my son’s teacher. I’ve never been able to do that before. People take these things for granted but that is massive for me.”

How long have you been working in Aut Even?

I’ve been here since 1998 so it will be twenty years this month. I was the very first Porter employed here. I was here for 5 years on my own but now I am part of a team of four other Porters.

What does your role as Porter entail?

I am responsible for bringing patients to and fro between different Hospital departments and to theatres. I transfer bloods to and from the labs or I bring patients for their CT scans. I assist with things like laundry and the upkeep of trolleys and facilities and I’ve been a Health & Safety representative for 15 years also.

What is good about working here?

The staff are great. The working environment is great. I’m in a position where I can help people every day and I like that. I get to meet people from all walks of life. I wasn’t hired here because of my education. They took me on because I had the personality and ability to do the job well. The Hospital has supported me in my journey of going back to education so it’s given me a sense of purpose and value.

What training and education have you had access to in the Hospital?

I’ve done lots of training including Fire, Health & Safety, Manual Handling, People Handling and Child Protection, all of which are relevant for my every day job. But I also completed Lean training so I have a Yellow Belt and Green Belt in Lean. It was through the Green Belt training with Ahearne/Collins and the University of Limerick in 2016 that I found myself completely out of my comfort zone. I doubted myself and didn’t think I’d be able to complete the course as I had no confidence in my abilities. I was really struggling with the written assignments so with the support of the Hospital and the Lean Department, I decided to go and do an evening class in adult learning to help me with my reading and writing and spelling.

What kind of improvement projects have you been involved in in the Hospital?

I’ve been involved in lots of projects. Some big, some small, but they have all given me an opportunity to work on real life solutions which help me to learn more about the Hospital and how it all works. One of the biggest projects I worked on was called ‘Bloodstream’ which was all about moving the lab within the Hospital. It was a big challenge but we achieved great success with it. The outcomes of the project were that we moved the lab to a more centralised location so staff could have easier access to it. We also saved around 600km per year in terms of people’s journeys to and from the lab and we removed around 10,000 minutes per year from people’s work load. It’s had a big impact on the Hospital and staff.

Are you glad to be an ambassador for NALA’s campaign?

I never wanted to talk about this or admit that I had these issues. I’ve avoided it for years but today since people have seen me in the ad I’ve had a few staff members come up to me and tell me that they’re going to give the information about NALA to members of their family. That’s what it’s all about. If my story can help others then I’ll be delighted.

To watch Brian in the #TakeTheFirstStep campaign click here:

NALA offers a Freephone support line 1800 20 20 65.
Visit or the campaign website to obtain more information for you or for someone who you feel may benefit from NALA’s services.