20 year old Erryn Killiner suffers from Ehler Danlos Syndrome. This is her story about how cedars Inclusion Works services helped her to complete her A Levels and successfully transition to University, something she thought she would never be able to achieve.

Erryn pictured out the front of Queens University Belfast

Erryn was unable to attend school during lower sixth and was forced to leave due to my health situation.  At that stage "i felt like I had the rug pulled out from under me". She was unable to finish her A-Levels and thought her dreams of University were gone.

She didn't know what to do or where to go from there - her confidence had taken a huge knock and was anxious about her future.
Erryn was referred to the Cedar foundation and given a Case Officer from Cedar’s Inclusion Works Service who worked with her to prepare a plan to allow her to continue her
education at Belfast Met.  

"As a wheelchair user, I struggled to take the bus each day in case of injury, so Cedar arranged for accessible taxis for me (to college and home again).  I was less tired in classes after cutting down the travel, I was never ever late, and most importantly, I was safer. Cedar is fantastic because you develop a rapport and maintain a strong connection to your Case Officer and you always have a port of call if you have any concerns or worries".

"My health is extremely unreliable - just over the course of my 2 years at Belfast Met I had been put on a fluid diet, diagnosed with meningitis 6 times, sepsis 3 times, developed a brain aneurysm and lung clot, broke my jaw and neck, and so many other things.   Absences were a big concern for me and my biggest obstacle to overcome.  My Case Officer helped to communicate on my behalf with the college, to keep up to date with work I needed to do for the courses". 

"I worked hard and earned ABB in my A Levels! I was offered 5 university courses and ultimately was accepted into my first choice - English and Film Studies at Queens University! Queens has always been my dream school and a few years ago it felt unreachable".

"On a deeper level, I am indebted to Cedar for helping me come out of my shell more - after high school, I was at an all-time low mentally. I felt unwanted, shy and just generally like a total outcast. I felt like everyone was staring and judging me. Thanks to Cedar, I slowly came back into my own, I was able to make phone calls again, go into shops alone, make friends and start living my life again. I am now 20 years old with a wonderful group of friends around me - I have become something of a social butterfly and love meeting new people now! My confidence is back and I no longer feel defined by my wheelchair, but rather, I feel empowered by it".

"I became accustomed to being 'the disabled girl' and I stopped just being ME. Cedar helped me find myself again."

"I started Queens in September and couldn't be more excited about it! All that hard work is paying off in the best way. My health is going to continue declining as time goes on but Cedar has given me the skills to focus on that without worrying about the fallout".

"Once I finish my undergraduate degree, I plan to get my PGCE and become a teacher! So thank you Cedar, for everything. For helping change my life for the better".


This project was funded by the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland and the European Union European Social Fund Northern Ireland.