Employment support service celebrates reaching key milestone

Posted: 07/03/24

An NHS employment support service is celebrating reaching a key milestone.

Last month, the IPS-AD team (Individual Placement and Support in Addictions Services) has achieved 100 jobs since its inception in 2022.

The team, which helps people accessing services at Newcastle Treatment and Recovery (NTaR) gain and sustain paid employment, has successfully helped individuals in getting 102 jobs. 74 of those were for people who were previously unemployed, with the remaining for those progressing into new roles.

IPS provides specialist support that helps people with mental health difficulties and addiction issues into competitive, paid employment.

The service previously helped people with serious mental illness and Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) teams but has since expanded into NTaR as part of a trial funded by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities.

IPS-AD works alongside NTaR taking referrals from people accessing the service. The team can accept referrals from the point of assessment, where they are asked about jobs and whether employment is a goal for them.

Employment specialists work with people to help them find and stay in work. They work with them on CVs, help with interviews, and work with employers to make reasonable adjustments.

On reaching 100 jobs, Ian Martin Team Lead for the IPS-AD Service, said: “It feels amazing to have reached this milestone, I’m so proud. This has been achieved by the fantastic efforts of the team and we couldn’t have done it without the support and joint collaborative work from everyone at NTaR.

“It could also not have been achieved without the focus and positive engagement from the individuals accessing services, both those who have gone onto positive and meaningful employment and those currently on the journey.

“I want to express my thanks and congratulations to all involved for their hard work and dedication, and for holding the hope for those who may have thought being employment whilst in recovery was a dream.”

John Bolland, IPS Service Lead, added: “I am ecstatic about the success of the people using our IPS-AD Service and extremely grateful for the tenacity and exceptionally strong values of the team. Having a good job is a fundamental right for every single person, and the IPS team and our collaborators will continue to provide an evidence-based, person-centred approach to making this right a reality for people accessing our services.”

Individuals accessing IPS-AD have been placed in a range of roles, from delivery drivers, lifeguards and teaching assistants to software engineers, cabin crew, and even jobs in CNTW for people who wanted to give back.

The service is led by the user, only placing them into jobs that they are interested in.

“We listen to what the individual wants,” Ian explained. “We won’t throw anyone into a role they don’t want to do as being in the wrong job can be detrimental to someone’s mental health. By placing people in the right work, we stop that revolving door in mental health services.

“In the past, employment was seen as an end game for treatment. Now it’s seen as part of recovery.”

There are numerous benefits for people in addictions services gaining employment. They have said work gives them self-worth, motivation, and financial stability.

They are enabled to take pride in themselves and become a role model to their children or families as well the social aspects and feeling productive because they are using their skills.

“We help people see their self-worth,” Ian said. “A lot of the people we work with think who’s going to employ an addict. Often, they say they never thought they’d get a job.

“Addiction can happen to anyone at any time. By working with businesses and hiring managers, we can work to change the culture and educate people around addictions and recovery.”

Once someone is in work, the employer and employee continue to receive support from the IPS team.

Pamela Blanchard, a psychological therapist at Newcastle Treatment and Recovery, said: “The support has gone above and beyond just supporting into employment. The work builds confidence in those who struggle and offers possibilities they may never have envisaged previously.

“When I refer to the team, I know my patients are in good hands with the chance of an improved life.”

One individual accessing IPS-AD said: “You believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself.”

Another said: “When I was referred to IPS, I was at rock bottom and didn’t have much faith. I was blown away by the kindness, patience, understanding, and compassion I was met with.”

NTaR is a partnership made up of CNTW, Humankind and Changing Lives.