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John Bolland – IPS Service Lead,Cumbria,Northumberland, Tyne and Wear

John has worked in the NHS for over a decade, starting as an Admin Assistant in a Psychology Clinic before transitioning to clinical work as a Support Worker in an Assertive Outreach Team. He specialised in Early Intervention in Psychosis, kick-starting vocational groups and activities in collaboration with service users and colleagues before successfully piloting IPS in Newcastle. He is now Service Lead for IPS in the Trust and loves collaborating with colleagues Trust-wide, empowering service users to pursue their dream jobs, supporting CNTW to be an amazing place to work and destigmatising mental health in the wider community.

Sarah Bittlestone – IPS Team Lead, North of Tyne

Sarah has been working as an IPS Team Lead since June 2019 after working for various third sector organisations. Her background is in working with vulnerable adults who have experienced homelessness, domestic abuse and addiction. After spending the previous three years working to support young people at risk of homelessness into employment, Sarah jumped at the chance to work for IPS as it combined her passion for supporting people to achieve their goals with her interest in mental health. The aspect of the job that Sarah enjoys the most is seeing someone start to discover their worth and how they have something valuable to offer an employer regardless of the challenges they have faced in life. Sarah feels lucky to be part of a dedicated team that all work towards the same goal and enjoys supporting staff to develop their skills and confidence. 

Mark Cooper – Employment Specialist, South, Central  Northumberland

Mark has worked within specialist employment support for several  years. Working on Projects such as Moving On Tyne and Wear, and Project Choice. His back ground has been in education settings, specialising in the delivery of work and life skills to young people with additional needs.

“To be able to support someone achieve their ambition and realise their dreams is a fantastic thing to be able to do. The sense of achievement  and fulfilment that my role gives me is considerable, being a part of someone’s recovery journey is both an honour and a privilege.”

Mary Warwick-Greer – Employment Specialist, North Tyneside CTT

Mary has worked in employment support within mental health services for 10 years. Prior to being an IPS Employment Specialist with CNTW Trust she was part of a successful government project called Trailblazer as an Employment Coach helping people who were accessing primary mental health services back into employment. Before that Mary worked at a mental health charity as an Employment Advisor and was based within a primary care NHS service as an Employment Advisor focusing on retaining and regaining employment for clients accessing this mental health service.

I feel inspired when the people I support have found a way forward in their employment, whether finding a new role, managing their present employment or returning to work after a period of ill health. I am passionate about helping people and employers in managing mental health in the workplace and overcoming stigma and misunderstanding.

Kate Lancaster – Employment Specialist, Newcastle EIP

Kate has over 14 years’ experience working in the Mental Health sector.

“I am passionate about, supporting those who have experienced difficulties back into employment as a recovery tool.  I thrive  motivating  people to gain confidence back in to work. I specialise in a unique way of getting to know someone, identifying their hopes and dreams to aspire them to achieve their goals  back into employment  and providing ongoing support  until they regain their confidence again.”

Jamie White – Employment Specialist, Newcastle North and East CTT

I have worked in mental health services for the past 10yrs in various job roles. My roles have included Service User Involvement within the Addiction Services. During my time as a Service User Involvement worker I was awarded The Shining Light on Excellence Award. This was for my commitment and passion in supporting people in their recovery journeys from substance misuse. I have also worked as a Peer Support Worker where I was able to relate to service users due to my own personal experiences.

In my current role as an IPS worker I believe that helping people find employment is a good foundation for people to maintain long term recovery.

Dee Ewart – IPS Team Lead, South and Central

Dee has worked in Private Sector, Local Authority and NHS Mental Health services in a variety of roles for approaching 28 years, she was one of the original Employment Specialists when IPS was first trialled back in 2009 here in the North East, alongside contributing to The Take Ten People Project and also supporting the set up of a service user led group called Voices Empowered.

Dee is a registered Mental Health First Aid Facilitator/Instructor and a qualified Health and Social Care Tutor/Assessor and IQA (Internal Quality Assessor).Dee is passionate about increasing and improving opportunities to improve progression and employment prospects for individuals with experience of a Mental Health condition.

Ian Martin – Employment Specialist, Gateshead EIP

Ian has worked in employment support within the mental health care setting for 3 years. Prior to being an IPS Employment Specialist he was part of a successful Government Project called Trailblazer that supported people accessing Primary mental health resources back into employment.

“I love supporting people back into employment and feel very privileged to be part of their mental health journey and love watching people develop their confidence and grow individually. I love receiving the call from clients to say they have gained employment and listening to the pride in their voice in this achievement.”

Richard Myers – Employment Specialist, Sunderland West and South CTT

Richard has been employed in the NHS for over 20 years, working in learning disabilities and mental health services, supporting people through all aspects of daily life.

“I find my role as an employments specialist challenging and rewarding, it is a pleasure to support people through their journey into employment.  My perfect job!”

Louise Tindill – Employment Specialist, Sunderland CTT and
Sunderland South EIP

Louise had a career in print, sales and marketing before a change of direction in 2018 where she went to work for a charity based in County Durham supporting armed forces veterans into employment.

As employer relations manager Louise was focused on the importance of establishing good connections with local businesses and encouraging employers to consider giving opportunities to people who might otherwise find considerable barriers to work.

Rachel McCreesh – Employment Specialist, Gateshead CTT

“The best thing about being an Employment Specialist is the relationships that I build with the Service Users. It is fantastic to be able to give them the time that they need to be able to support them properly to achieve their employment goals. Before I joined the IPS Service I was an Independent Mental Health Advocate so it matters to me that I can put service users at the centre of the work that I do and make sure that their wishes and views are heard. I understand how important returning to employment can be to support an individual’s recovery in the long term and very much enjoy enabling people to achieve this.”

Elsa Wright – Employment Specialist, Gateshead CTT and North Tyneside EIP

I have worked within Mental Health services for 12 years, predominantly in Employment. I have experience in working for charities, Local Authority and the NHS.  I believe that every person has the right to fulfil their potential and am an advocate of the recovery model way of working which is why I am proud to be able to support the people I work with to achieve their goals.

“I am very passionate about this role and find it an honour and a privilege to help support people back into employment and to see first hand the positive difference that this can make to their lives.”

Jill Gray – Employment Specialist, Sunderland South EIP

Jill worked as a Clinical Support Worker for the Mental Health teams in the community at CNTW for 6 years, before joining the IPS team. During her time in this multifaceted role she supported many service users to build and regain their confidence allowing them to progress positively in their lives.

“Having the opportunity to support individuals to reach one of their life goals and to see their personal and professional growth is such a privilege. There is nothing better than to see an individuals confidence in their own ability grow as they achieve things they once though out of their reach.”

Faye Grieves – IPS Team Lead, Cumbria

Before her work as Cumbria IPS Team Lead, Faye worked as a Police Officer within Cumbria Constabulary. In the latter part of her service she specialised in supporting vulnerable victims and people at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation, working with multi agencies and conducting complex investigations.

“I am passionate about working with diverse individuals. Everyone’s circumstances are different and we tailor our service depending on their individual needs. I enjoy managing the IPS team in Cumbria, and I am proud that we form part of the wider team to support people in their recovery”.

 Lauren Turnbull – Employment Specialist, CMHART and EIP Carlisle

Lauren has worked in the NHS for nearing four years, primarily in Legal Services managing Inquests, Claims and Court Proceedings.  Lauren wanted to work more directly with individual’s accessing mental health services therefore, started working on the mental health inpatient wards on a weekend as a hobby, working with a huge variety of people from all walks of life.

Prior to working for the NHS she worked in the Print and Marketing Industry and Steel Fabrication Industry, where she had exposure to liaising with a vast range of businesses across many industries.  Lauren wanted to combine her knowledge of legal processes and legislation, experience in the marketing industry and the desire to work directly with individuals to promote independence and recovery, and the role of Employment Specialist was the perfect opportunity to do this. I am extremely passionate about working with people to promote independence and recovery, it is extremely rewarding seeing those I work with grow in confidence and achieve their dreams. In the short time I have worked for the service, I have met so many inspirational and impressive people, with real drive and determination and I continue to learn so much every day from each and every person I work with.

Shelley Studholme –  Employment Specialist, CMHART and EIP Allerdale and Copeland

Shelley is an Employment Specialist who prior to starting had twenty years working in education as a Primary School Teacher. A priority during this time was the promotion of Emotional Intelligence and Personal Social Health and Economic Education keeping its profile high on the curriculum.

“I longed to work within the field of Mental Health, in the community and on a one to one basis with individuals; whilst having the support of a strong team. I am, therefore, very privileged to be an Employment Specialist.”

Natalie Jacques – Employment Specialist, CMHART and EIP Eden

Natalie begun her career in Social Work, supporting Adults with a range of different health and social care needs to develop a quality of life that was important to them. Natalie then moved into the third sector to work as a Volunteer Manager for a Dementia Charity and she enjoyed encouraging and supporting volunteers from all backgrounds to use their individual skills and build their self confidence. Whilst working for the Charity she took on a specialist project that involved her supporting working age people with dementia remain in employment.

Natalie became an IPS Specialist as she is eager to support people to realise their passions through the platform of work.

“I believe that everyone has something unique to offer in this world and it’s important for their identity and sense of self that they are given the support and opportunities to fulfil this”.

Mark DeFusco – Employment Specialist, Northumberland EIP

Mark is a qualified occupational therapist with a background in vocational rehabilitation, adult education and acute medical wards.

“I have developed skills and knowledge through working in a variety of settings. I have worked as a PIP disability assessor, a health and well-being advisor, and have supported staff working with clients to help them into employment. I also have experience in the voluntary sector, working as a tutor in a functional skills/adult literacy class for three years. I have also run employability workshops and courses for groups of clients to help them into employment.

I have recently moved to Northumberland and I am very keen to offer my support to clients. In my spare time I enjoy creative writing, hiking in the hills of Northumberland, and have just started beekeeping.”

Aimee Coburn  – Employment Specialist, Sunderland South and
West Community Treatment Team

Amy began her career as a Youth Worker, and has been supporting people to enter employment since 2011.

“My previous role saw me working as a Job Coach for a National Lottery funded programme, and before that I worked in a variety of settings such as training companies, local authorities, and the housing sector. I have always had a keen interest in mental health, so I feel very lucky to be able to work in the IPS team, being a part of someone’s mental health journey and recovery. I am passionate about supporting people gain high quality employment, and reducing the stigma of having an employee with a mental health condition, through informal conversations and training sessions.

My favourite thing about my job is hearing how an individual’s confidence has grown in some way, or that they have achieved a particular goal they set for themselves, no matter how big or small that may have been.”