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Supporting People Into Work

10 February 2020

Camden Work and Wellbeing (CWAW) is a wellbeing and employability programme run by Hillside Clubhouse in partnership with Camden and Islington NHS trust, with funding from Camden Council and the Cabinet Office. It has been using individual placement and support (IPS) to help people experiencing mental health issues to find (and stay in) work since 2018. 

IPS supports people with severe mental health difficulties into employment by quickly finding paid positions in line with the client’s work preferences. Employment specialists also provide time unlimited support for both the person and their employer, with the aim of increasing their clients’ independence and confidence until they no longer feel they need the service. 

Camden Work and Wellbeing discusses with clients what kind job they are looking for as well as their preferred working environment and the kind of support they will need once they start working. The employment specialist will then provide that support to help the client maintain their health and wellbeing once in their new position. 

The CWAW scheme is able to cater to a wide range of employment interests, with clients gaining work as communication assistants, administrators, care assistants, waiters, and teachers. Many have found posts in prestigious organisations; working for the NHS, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and even the government. 

International evidence strongly suggests that the IPS model is much more successful than traditional vocational training in helping people with mental health difficulties get into work. Since launching two years ago, 228 mental health service users have found new employment with the help of CWAW, and 162 people have been supported to retain their positions or return to previous jobs. Three-quarters of CWAW clients maintained their posts for longer than 6 weeks, including those who had previously been out of work for decades. 

According to Louise Cantrell, service manager for the NHS’s South Camden rehabilitation and recovery team, health professionals in the area are now working with clients by following the IPS model, focusing on helping people to achieve their future goals in addition to addressing diagnoses and symptoms. 

The NHS are increasing funding for IPS programmes to reach their goal of helping 55,000 people per year find and thrive in employed positions by 2023-2024. They are currently investigating whether the scheme can also be used to support people with physical health requirements in a similar way. 

To find out more please read Clare Horton’s piece in The Guardian.