Leeds woman says Better Working Futures scheme has helped her overcome anxiety to find a job and even get a promotion

A Leeds woman who suffers from anxiety has found work and even been promoted with the help of a Government employment support programme.

Kirsty Bird is one of those with health conditions or disabilities in Yorkshire and the North East who have moved into work thanks to the Better Working Futures scheme.

The Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson this week visited Reed in Partnership in Leeds the prime provider of the Work and Health Programme in the North East, known as Better Working Futures.

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Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson with Kirsty Bird. Pic by DWP

The programme, commissioned to support jobseekers who have identified health conditions or disabilities as a barrier to them finding and staying in employment, helped 804 people into work in May.

People are referred to the programme from the jobcentre and are linked to a dedicated Employment Adviser who helps them put together a personal action plan based on their circumstances, needs and ambitions.

Employment Advisers will organise all the support required by a participant, including helping them access funding to help with the cost of travel, childcare and work or interview clothing.

In Leeds, 63 people moved into employment last month, while 1,356 jobseekers have been helped into work in the area by the programme since its inception in November 2017.

Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said: “It was wonderful to hear about the life-changing impact the Work and Health Programme has had in Leeds and the North East and how it is helping disabled people to unlock their full potential.

“People with disabilities and health conditions want the same opportunities as everyone else and as part of our Plan for Jobs we are removing barriers to make this a reality.”

During his visit to Reed, the Minister met with Ms Bird, 25, from Seacroft, who was referred to the service in March after being unemployed for over six months.

She suffers from anxiety, but through the help of the programme, started a job last month working for Benley Properties as a cleaner and has since been promoted.

Kirsty Bird said: “I really recommend the service to anybody. I have been able to overcome my nerves which I’m really proud of, and I was given help to improve my interview skills. I am now in a job that I love and am being promoted into a supervisor role.”

The Minister also heard the story of 19-year-old Lizzie Fawcett from Wakefield, who joined the Work and Health programme in January after being homeless for a number of months as well as struggling with her mental health.

She now has her own flat and was helped to secure her first job interview.

Lizzie Fawcett said: "I was really struggling when it came to coping with my mental health and finding work that I would be comfortable doing in my situation.

“The service really helped me with my mental health. I was having weekly calls where I was able to talk about the issues I had been having.

"Even when I got my flat, my employment adviser Amy was on hand to help me with understanding my bills, even giving me support with some problems I was having with my gas company.

“Amy really helped when it came to my first job interview. She gave me all the support I needed and checked up on me to see how it had gone. It made me more confident knowing she was there supporting me all the way.”