Employment Services Help Patients Achieve their Goal – 19/05/09

Hundreds of mental health patients across Dudley and Walsall are being given help to get a job thanks to specialist employment teams.

Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust has two departments – one in Walsall and one in Dudley – dedicated to helping service users achieve their employment goals.

The teams work with people who have experienced severe and enduring mental ill health to assist them with a range of work-related ambitions such as finding employment, securing a voluntary placement, attending college or writing CVs.

Walsall’s service also has a retention officer who helps service users who are in employment but who are at risk of losing their job due to mental ill health.

Dudley’s service, called Step Up, and the Walsall Employment Service see around 330 patients every year.

Claire Savage, Dudley’s vocational service lead, said the work done by both services was extremely important.

“The work we do can be vital in a service user’s road to recovery,” she said.

“The majority of people we see have either never worked or have been out of work for a long time so it is important to help them start thinking about getting into employment once they feel ready.

“The current economic climate means finding employment has become more difficult for some of the individuals we work with. What we do is not just about supporting service users to get into work, it is also about enabling people to recognise the skills they have, working with individuals to develop new skills and supporting people to achieve their goals.”

Vicky Harris, employment service manager for mental health in Walsall, added: “We see service users from a range of different backgrounds from people with no basic employment skills to those with degrees.

“It is really satisfying when we are able to help somebody achieve their goal, whatever that may be, and to see them benefit as a result.

“We have had really good feedback from service users who have been able to move on with their life thanks to the work we do.”

Simon Skidmore, a Dudley service user, said: “I found working with the Step Up project very helpful.

“When I contacted them first I was at a very low point in my life and they very quickly gave me help and hope to do volunteering.

“I found my charity work at Barnardo’s extremely beneficial. It gives me a purpose in my life and I have also made some good friends there.”

Sue Gittins, a Walsall service user, said: “Since being referred to the service by my community psychiatric nurse, I have received excellent support in identifying a new career path.

“This continued support has allowed me to move forward into some permitted work and to begin a teaching qualification.”