New scheme could help thousands return to work

THOUSANDS of people with mental and physical health problems will have the chance to return to the world of work with help from a project supported by a Yorkshire housing association.

Carl Hawkes of South Yorkshire Housing Association Limited
Carl Hawkes of South Yorkshire Housing Association Limited

The programme, which has been launched by the South Yorkshire Housing Association (SYHA), will use the Individual Placement Support system, which places the emphasis on finding people regular jobs in the community, rather than sheltered or therapeutic work.

The employment trial will support people with a mental or physical health condition to find and remain in employment in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw.

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Called Working Win, the trial is being funded by the Government’s Work and Health Unit and is being delivered in partnership with Sheffield City Region and local NHS partners.

Carl Hawkes, the programme lead for Live Well, Building Better Opportunities at SYHA, said: “It’s a £5m project funded by central Government. At SYHA we do much more than just housing. All of our customers should have the chance to live well and realise their potential.

“More strategically, it will enable us to make a case to central Government to change the face of employment services in the UK. We’ll be engaging 7,500 people, with mental and physical health conditions, from our area and supporting them to stay in or get back to work.”

It is open to participants who are aged 18 or over, who are registered with a GP in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw and who have a mental or physical health condition that they feel is a barrier to moving into employment or remaining in their current role.

The trial is voluntary and will not affect the participant’s benefits status. All seven NHS Trusts in the region and 42 GP practices have already signed up, with more expected to follow.

Dan Jarvis, the Sheffield City Region mayor, said: “Research has proved that being in good work can support good health. That’s why I’m proud that Sheffield City Region is one of the very first areas in the UK to be trialling this new dedicated and personalised support, helping people to find work, or to stay in work if they’re struggling. I’m committed to doing all I can to tackle inequality and help people from all communities to gain the skills and opportunities that they need to fulfil their goals.”

Further information can be found at Employers who want to get involved with the programme can contact [email protected] or telephone 0114 2900 200.

South Yorkshire Housing Association can trace its roots back to 1972, when John Belcher founded the Sheffield Family Housing Association, after watching the BBC drama Cathy Come Home, which was about homelessness.

SYHA currently own and manage 5,687 properties. 1,700 of these households receive support to help them maintain a tenancy and live independently.

The Working Win programme takes a “place then train” approach which has been shown to be twice as effective as traditional strategies for ensuring people with mental or physical health conditions find work.