Job scheme launches after trial helps more than 600 into work



Following the success of the biggest jobs support trial of its kind in the world, the Black Country is getting more support to help people who have health conditions into work.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has secured £1.1million from the Government to continue Thrive into Work which helps unemployed people who have have mental or physical health conditions get back into the workplace.

Between June 2018 and October this year the WMCA led the research study which has helped more than 600 people back into work.

Job scheme launches after trial helps more than 600 into work

Matt Wagg

Working with primary and community health teams, jobs support and health services were integrated. Employment specialists based in GP surgeries and other health and community settings across the region provided intensive guidance to help individuals find and apply for jobs, and prepare for interviews.

Due to the success of the trial Thrive into Work is now being extended to run till July 2021.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands said: “Getting 600 people back into work is an outstanding achievement, creating positive health, social and economic benefits allowing residents to thrive. The pandemic has had a damaging effect on employment but schemes like Thrive into Work show that the targeted, hard work being put in by the WMCA is contributing to a fairer, healthier West Midlands.”

Research from the Centre for Mental Health on mental health at work shows that mental ill health is responsible for 72 million working days lost and costs £34.9 billion each year and is strongly associated with social and economic circumstances, including living in poverty, low-quality work and unemployment.

Father of two young children, Matt Wagg, is one of the people who benefitted from Thrive Into Work. In 2018 he had to leave his job as a delivery driver after osteoarthritis in his knees made it too painful to do his job. Being unemployed left the 47-year-old from Oldbury feeling he was on the scrapheap.

However, after six months of support Matt gained a job as a school caretaker, playing an invaluable role in keeping the school operating during the coronavirus outbreak. He said: “I feel so much better compared to how I was before I enrolled on Thrive into Work, it provided me with someone to push me in the right direction and I’m like a different person to how I was then.”

The Thrive into Work trial was originally set up to test if support in primary care settings would help people with a health condition return to employment. It helped people with a variety of conditions including arthritis, cancer and depression. The Trial was based on a tried and tested model called Independent Placement Support (IPS) which traditionally supports people with severe and enduring mental health difficulties to find work. Thrive into Work is currently provided by Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to people living in Dudley and Walsall, and Prospects part of Shaw Trust deliver the service to people in Wolverhampton, Sandwell and West Birmingham.

WMCA Portfolio lead for health and wellbeing and leader of Warwickshire County Council, Izzi Seccombe, said: “Thrive into Work is important because it can help citizens regain confidence, independence and a sense of purpose.

“I am delighted it’s previous success will be built upon, helping to support people in our region rebuild their lives and get back into the workplace.”

To find out more about Thrive into Work visit https://www.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/thrive/thrive-at-work/thrive-into-work/

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