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Mental health support service helps people “Step On” into employment

Posted on behalf of Together We’re Better

A pioneering mental health support service in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent has helped over 334 people to find jobs and given many more the vital skills they need to help them get back into work.

The Step On Individual Placement and Support (IPS) service was established in 2013, it has been jointly delivered by North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust and Midlands Partnership Foundation NHS Trust since April 2018 and has supported over 1,062 clients so far.

Neil Carr OBE, Senior Responsible Officer for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Integrated Care System’s (ICS) Workforce Programme and Chief Executive of Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“The success of the Step On service is a fantastic example of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Integrated Care System (ICS) partners working together to improve the health and outcomes of people in the area.

“At the December ICS Board meeting we heard from Joy Barnfield, one of the people who had been supported by the service, and her first-hand account of her experiences and how the Step On service has helped her was truly moving and inspirational.”

Jennifer Hawkins, Step On Team Manager, said: “Step On IPS service supports anyone who wants to work and is involved in secondary mental health services in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. We work with people on a one-to-one basis so we can get to know clients and understand their barriers to employment.

“We then tailor support to meet clients’ needs whether it be building their confidence, helping them to write a CV, or practising their interview skills. We aim to help clients move on with their lives.”

Joy Barnfield, Senior Employer Specialist for Step On, said: “The team at Step On not only helped me get back into work but they later supported me to get a role within the team.

“I feel as if my life is starting again, and I would never have had that if I had not gone to Step On for help.

“I worked in a bank from the age of 16 and I absolutely loved it, but in the late ‘90s when my daughter was young, I began to experience low moods and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I tried my best to get through it but after 27 years, I had to give up my role with the bank. My days were all about coping with my depression while looking after my daughter and being a carer for my mum after my father passed away.

“We then had a few awful years as a family when my daughter Charlotte was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2014 and needed chemotherapy, my lovely mum passed away and I was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia. Thankfully Charlotte and I recovered, but I felt like I had nothing in my life after being a carer for so long. All I could think was, would going back to work help me?

“I mentioned how I felt to my mental health support worker in Cannock, and they referred me to Step On. There I met Helen who is now my boss. I had never done a CV before and at 57 I really didn’t think anyone would employ me. But I got the first job I went for at Dunelm and then when a peer support role came up at Step On, I went for it and was successful.

“I was over the moon. I love helping people make that final step of being ready to work because it is a big thing and when you’ve been through it yourself you understand. I now work full time for Step On and my mental health is the best it has been for 20 years. Step On changed my life. It gives people hope.”

Anyone receiving secondary mental health services can be referred to Step On by their care coordinator, or they can contact Step On directly for more information.

Patients in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire can email [email protected] or call 07515 191219.

Patients in South Staffordshire can email [email protected] or call 07773 177967.