A partnership between Shaw Trust and Forward Thinking Birmingham (FTB), the city’s mental health service for 0-25-year-olds, has successfully helped more than 260 young people into work; supporting their recoveries.
The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model is an employment programme funded by Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board (ICB) that supports young people who experience difficulties in finding employment because of mental health issues.
Since April 2021, Shaw Trust has been working with those receiving support from FTB, including those from its Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) Service.
Dr Mark Bernard, Consultant in the EIP Service at Forward Thinking Birmingham, said: "The majority of young people with first-episode psychosis in Birmingham are not in employment when they initially come to us for a range of reasons but Shaw Trust trains vocational workers to work around these challenges and help on the steps to employment.”
Last year, the National Clinical Audit of Psychosis (NCAP) identified FTB’s Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) service as a top national performer for supported employment.
Dr Bernard explained: "There is really good evidence that helping young people return to work will not only improve their social recovery but their long-term clinical and personal recovery. Having a job gives young people a reason to get up every day and engage with the world again."
Those who participate in the IPS programme are twice as likely to gain employment compared to traditional vocational alternatives. They sustain their jobs longer, earn more money and, importantly, they typically see no deterioration in their mental health as a result of taking up work.
Shaw Trust, alongside colleagues in FTB's mental health teams, also supports young people while they are in work.
Molly, 23, received support from Shaw Trust after gaining a role at a firm in Birmingham.
Molly said: "I was waiting for an ADHD assessment when I started my first office role, and I was worried about how the symptoms would affect my work. However, Shaw Trust helped me overcome these worries and showed me how to communicate any issues I had to my employer and get the right support from them.
"I have weekly catch-ups with my support worker from Shaw Trust and to know that I'll always have that support if I need it has made a real difference. It's massively improved my confidence, and I don't know if I'd be where I am today without them.
Molly added: "It's the best practical mental health support I've ever been offered. It was so consistent and tailored to me. Shaw Trust helped fight my corner and I’m really thankful for them."
Adrian Nesbitt, Work to Recovery IPS Team Leader for Shaw Trust, said: "Seeing young people get into employment after going through such a difficult time, it's just priceless. It really is. It has been a real pleasure to help these individuals get into work and watch them grow and flourish.
"These young people are getting to follow their dreams, to earn a living and contribute to society, and you can see the joy in it; you can really see the increase in their positivity."
Forward Thinking Birmingham, part of Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust, has working with Shaw Trust since April 2021.