We’re leading a new partnership that will support up to 600 people living in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw to find employment that meets their preferences, and utilises their talents and experiences.

Rates of employment are lower for people with mental illness than for those with any other health condition. Many people with mental health issues would like to work, but only 7% of those with severe mental illness are in paid jobs. South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System has awarded £1,101,877 in funding to an innovative public and voluntary sector partnership – and we’re leading on the delivery of this new service.

We’re working with Citizens Advice Sheffield and all of the region’s providers of mental health services: Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust; Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust; South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust; and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

“Innovation is an overused word, but in this case it’s the right one. This is a unique partnership between the voluntary sector (South Yorkshire Housing Association and Citizen’s Advice) and the NHS. The service will focus on what we call ‘good work’ opportunities. There is some element of fear about employment and health schemes forcing people into low-paid jobs they don’t want. We are not trying to expose people’s weaknesses; our model works with people’s strengths.”

Tony Stacey, Chief Executive
South Yorkshire Housing Association

The money will be spent on increasing the number of Individual Placement and Support (IPS) employment specialists working within NHS secondary mental health services. They will support patients with severe mental illness to find sustainable employment, and work with them to stay mentally well while flourishing in their role.

IPS is a proven way of helping people with mental health conditions to find and retain employment. It’s twice as effective as other approaches, with people securing higher earnings and staying in their jobs for longer.

IPS employment specialists offer patients with severe mental illness coaching and advice, along with practical tips on finding a job and preparing for interviews. They search for jobs and approach employers on the patient’s behalf to identify suitable roles – acting as a crucial link between patient, employer and medical staff. As part of this initiative, patients will also receive fast-track access to benefits and debt advice through Citizens Advice in Sheffield.