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THOUSANDS more people who struggle to get a job because of their health or a disability are to be helped into work, thanks to the expansion of a pioneering support programme.
Greater Manchester has used devolved powers since 2014 to run its own skills and employment support initiatives.
Now a further £12.4m from the Department of Work and Pensions is to be invested in Greater Manchester’s Working Well Work and Health programme over the coming two years.
This means that funding is in place to continue work to support an additional 7,375 people who may be facing complex barriers to find a job, and to provide help for up to six months after successful applicants enter employment.
Greater Manchester has used its devolved powers to set higher standards for support services than the national average, for example:
Linking employment outcomes to payment of the Real Living Wage, rather than the national minimum wage, for them to count as a success
Integrating employment support with other services that help to address barriers to work, such as health and housing – making 100,000 referrals from 2018 to 2022
Cllr Eamonn O’Brien, Leader of Bury Council and Greater Manchester’s lead for Work and Skills, said:
“The Working Well family of services has been one of the great successes of our unique devolution deal here in Greater Manchester.
“Having local control over funding for skills and health puts us in the best possible position to work with people here, identify the issues they might be facing, and offer tailored support to help them get on in life.
“Good work is good for people’s health. It’s also clearly good for our economy and good for communities. I’m pleased that we have been able to agree this contract extension and that thousands more people will benefit and be helped into work as a result.”
Among the people helped into work are Sophie Teal, who was supported to overcome her anxiety and land a job as a software engineer, and Kathleen McMurray, who got back into working in retail after being given help with her CV and IT skills.
“I will never forget the impact that the Work and Health Programme has had on my life and career,” while Kathleen added: “I now feel more content and better in myself.”
Working Well is a family of specialist support services commissioned by Greater Manchester using powers granted by central government in its 2014 devolution deal.
The services have been designed to provide the wide-ranging support that is often necessary to help people who are out of work because of health conditions to secure and maintain permanent, good quality, jobs.
The Working Well Work and Health programme is provided by InWorkGM, which is an alliance partnership between Ingeus, The Growth Company and Seetec Pluss.
All participants are provided with individually tailored and personalised support from their own dedicated key worker.
Staff in each of the 10 Greater Manchester councils work with the advisors to link with the local specialist support organisations that can help people on their journey back to work.
Around 21,900 people have been helped through the Working Well Work and Health programme between 2018 and 2022, resulting in 9,209 people starting new jobs.
The Working Well services also support Greater Manchester’s Local Industrial Strategy. A key goal of this is tackle health inequalities and bring more people into the workforce.
Sophie’s story – how my coach helped me to get a job and into the office
Sophie had recently graduated with a degree in software engineering but suffered severe anxiety that meant she struggled to leave the house or work with others in an office.
She was referred for support and was allocated a coach who suggested she attend a three-month training course that taught her work and life skills, how to interact with colleagues and achieve work targets.
This built Sophie’s confidence and on completion she was offered two job opportunities. Her coach supported her in talking through the choice she faced so Sophie had confidence in making the right decision.
On her first day, when trying to fight off a panic attack, Sophie’s coach provided her with the assurance she needed to get to work.
“I am now a few weeks into my new job; I am getting along well with my co-workers, am beginning to feel comfortable in an office environment, and even attended a work-related social outing.
“I cannot stress enough how much I have grown over the last few months with the support of my coach, and I will never forget the impact that the Work and Health Programme has had on my life and career.”
Kathleen’s story – I was determined to get back to work and my coach helped me do it
Kathleen was determined to get back to work after a year off following bereavement, depression and anxiety.
She struggled with IT skills and had missed interview slots as a result.
Kathleen’s work coach helped her to rewrite her CV, focusing on her extensive retail skills and experience.
“Once I redid my CV I took it in to the store and boom – with hours, not days – I received a phone call inviting me to interview.
“I also completed an online application for another store and I had an interview two hours after it was submitted.
“They gave me a permanent job and I feel this was because of the work my coach did in highlighting my skills and experience.
“I was in a low place after a bereavement but was determined to get into work and my coach saw that in me straight away.
“I now feel more content, better in myself and able to sleep well for the first time in a long time.”
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