A local NHS Trust is to be the first in the country to employ people with lived experience of homelessness as part of a pilot project.
Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) have recruited two healthcare social workers as part of Access to Employment, a pilot programme which aims to understand the systemic and individual barriers people experience when looking for jobs.
Of the seven NHS Trusts participating in the project, CNTW has been the first to complete the recruitment process.
The programme has been part of the Trust’s recruitment and retention work, which includes creating opportunities for those who have lived experience and recognising their value.
And now, two people who were previously homeless will be working into a homeless team and a community treatment team within the Trust.
Part of the programme involved a training course led by Groundswell, a UK charity creating solutions to end homelessness. The training looked at people’s past experience and transferrable skills.
The course was open to people in stable positions, who no longer had issues with accommodation. Two people were identified to be ready for work.
Senior Professional Social Worker Jan Rutherford has been involved in the project. She said: “Many people felt having experience of being homeless meant there were barriers to them getting a job. The training helped to encourage and empower attendees and make them feel like they were employable.”
It took CNTW just two months from training to being in a position to offer posts.
As healthcare support workers, the successful applicants will work with people to find solutions to their problems. This may be helping to protect vulnerable people from harm or abuse or supporting people to live independently.
Anne-Marie Lamb, Senior Nurse International Recruitment and Relocation Support, said: “For CNTW to be the first Trust to get to this stage of the pilot is a massive achievement. The work has instilled hope and shows that everyone has an opportunity.
“It normalises people with lived experience and shows that just because you have been homeless doesn’t mean you can’t move forward.”
Jan added: “The experience has brought me to tears. It’s all down to the successful individuals. They had the ability, they just hadn’t been given the opportunity and we’ve been able to provide that.
“They’re both really passionate and looking forward to forging their careers. To have healthcare support workers with lived experience and real empathy will bring such value to the teams.”
Led by NHS England and Improvement, the programme gives organisations the chance to reflect on current employment practices for people with lived experience and reduce barriers to employment. Participating trusts have had the opportunity to change health and social care culture.
The project is being evaluated throughout to measure its success.