NHS pledge to continue drive helping 'vulnerable' into work
|Author: Laiqaah Manjra||Published: 23rd May 2012 15:10|
The "Working for Wellness in the East Midlands Network", a partnership between the 28 NHS organisations in the East Midlands, led by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, has helped to support more than 60 people into work over the last two years.
The network, which was set up by the East Midlands Strategic Health Authority (SHA) in 2009, secured funding of more than £800,000 from the Department of Health, the East Midlands SHA and Department of Work and Pensions during the two-year period.
The work it helped to fund included direct support for more than 20 employment projects, covering each of the five counties.
The network was tasked with four key aims:
• To promote and create employment in the NHS for people with mental health difficulties and/or learning disabilities, who are among the most disadvantaged groups when it comes to finding work
• To reduce the stigma faced in the jobs market by people with mental health difficulties and/or learning disabilities
• To influence managers and commissioners to support this work.
• To share what they learned from the work with other organisations to increase the value of the work
As well as securing funding from the DWP to support 30 temporary posts in the NHS, the network worked with private, public and third sector organisations on projects as diverse as the Citizens Advice Bureau, University Hospitals of Leicester, Kettering General Hospital, Leicester City Methodist Church and social enterprises.
The formal work programme for the Working for Wellness Network ended at the end of March but its members will continue working together informally, under the chairmanship of LPT chief executive John Short.
He said: "We know that having a job or some meaningful activity plays a major part in maintaining good mental health and wellbeing.
"Research shows that fewer than a quarter of people with mental health conditions and only one in 10 of those with moderate or severe learning disabilities are in work. Providing people with the chance to work, even for a limited period, can make a measurable difference to the confidence, skills and ultimately the future prospects of the applicants we have been able to support with relatively modest funding.
"Now, faced with the continued impact of the economic downturn, people already facing disadvantage and discrimination trying to find work are facing even greater obstacles.
"The network has supported work to reduce those obstacles. Some organisations have funded permanent positions and we want to see this kind of sustained support continue. We'll continue working together to look for opportunities to fund and support projects, to show commissioners the value of investing in ‘recovery and employment' and to share what we learn with others."
The network's formal closure was marked with a conference and celebration event in Leicester at the end of March. Two of the projects supported spoke about their work and delegates included many of the people helped.
Speakers included 2010 Mind champion of the year Rachel Perkins OBE, Maqsood Ahmad OBE Director for Inclusion, NHS Midlands and East and Director for NHS EDS Implementation., who leads work on the national NHS Equality Delivery System, and Lord Patel of Bradford, OBE.
Lord Patel has welcomed the network's decision to carry on with its work. He said: "Having a job can be life changing not only for the individual, but also their families, it has a major impact on communities and society. Research shows that the investment made by commissioners in employment has a beneficial impact on resources elsewhere in the NHS by reducing demand for services and medications. It also means the individual becomes independent and has less need for state support.'