Livewell Southwest are providing a platform into work in the form of Paid Work Placements for individuals with a history of various health conditions and periods of long term unemployment, social exclusion, long term unemployment, criminal pasts, physical disabilities, past addictions, mental health issues and in some cases, single parenting. These situations have often played a large part of forming someone’s health and lifestyle. Often this will lead to a spiral of unemployment and welfare dependency.
A Paid Work Placement is for an individual who will come into the workplace to fill a new or created vacancy. This would be for an initial trial period of 4 weeks. This gives the opportunity for someone who will have a challenging background to come into Livewell Southwest and to learn or re-learn skills, build confidence and feel and be valued. If this 4 week trial is successful the position will continue for a 6 months fixed term period.
As an organisation we have stated that we are committed to increasing employment opportunities for disabled and disadvantaged people and welcoming and encouraging all disabled people to apply for jobs with us. We have a duty to include people considered to be from disadvantaged backgrounds. As a Social Enterprise Livewell Southwest has a social, ethical and moral responsibility to try to reach out to all sections of our community.
So far 20 people have been successfully placed into Paid Work Placements since April 2015. These are in various roles such as general cleaning, maintenance, administration and Healthcare Assistants. A great example of how well this is working comes from Paula Mumford, who has successfully been taken on permanently since beginning her Paid Work Placement as a Podiatry Administrator. The Podiatry service offer specialist assessments and interventions for patients with a foot or related lower limb medical and general health problems covering Plymouth, South Hams and West Devon, on behalf of the NHS.
Paula said ‘Being a single parent is very rewarding but very difficult to balance this with finding sustainable employment, especially when I had been out of work for 2 years. I was volunteering in two schools working in administration, this was good because I was keeping my skills up to date but the longer I volunteered, the further away from the labour market I was getting because of the gap in my employment history. A lot of people think that admin is easy and that there is a lot of work around, but in reality the market is saturated with people looking for the same thing and it was becoming increasingly difficult to stand out to a potential employer.
Tomorrow’s People are a Work Programme provider in Plymouth and I had been in regular contact with them regarding job opportunities, they presented me with the opportunity to apply for a position with Livewell Southwest and I jumped at the chance because I wanted to settle into a people-focused company and feel valued as an integral part of the service within Podiatry. I worked hard at the application and researched well for my interview, the outcome couldn’t be better, the team here are excellent and I feel I have been here forever’.
Steven Elford, Manager for Paid Work Placements said: “Now we are committed to working collaboratively with partner organisations in the city and wider areas to achieve improved health outcomes for the local population because we know that employment has been seen to improve the health in individuals. We have good links with many partner organisations which have a “back to work” scheme or an employability project of some sort, who can personally identify suitable candidates.
This scheme works well as an integral part of the recruitment process, however, this would not be as successful without the support of the recruiting managers within LSW, who have all stated that they want to do everything they can to develop, encourage and progress individuals on Paid Work Placements. As well as partner organisations such as local Job Centres, Shekinah Mission, Work Programme providers’ Working Links and Tomorrow’s People, Royal British Legion, Affinity Sutton, Remploy among others, we recognise that actually, getting someone with a health condition or who is at a disadvantage in the labour market is the easy part. Once you have exclusively given a candidate the opportunity to fill in an application form and be invited to interview, the reality of potentially finding a real job sets in and we will simply give advice and guidance all the way through this process to support the individual, even if they don’t make the interview selection process at that time.
The hardest part is keeping individuals in work. For some people, for various reasons, this is often a massive change and challenge for them apart from the feedback from individuals stating that this scheme has provided a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ and ‘opening new doors’ it is their lifestyle change, their diet, sleep patterns, attitude towards work and the challenges of coping with these changes that can see them become ‘shaky’ in the first few weeks and month.
Livewell Southwest will give in-work support in whatever form that needs to take to ensure that the individual knows that they are working for an organisation where primarily, patient need is met, the professional healthcare and customer service is of the highest standard and that we employ the most dedicated individuals who will get the best support and personal development structure to enable them to thrive in our company. They can then take this experience wherever they may go next”.