I am part of a 20-strong team across Derbyshire, supporting both employed and unemployed people to enjoy the benefits of a working life.
Out team provides employment services to clients accessing NHS England’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), and many of the people we help experience anxiety, depression and other moderate mental health conditions.
In our Derbyshire team each of us comes from a different background and possesses a mix of experience. There is a varied age range, gender balance, and cultural variety but what we share is a real desire to help people.  
Participants are referred to me from local mental health therapy services and I assist with any and every employment need they may have. Finding a job. Returning to work after illness. Struggling to retain their job due to work difficulties. I’m there to help.
Sounds straightforward? In reality, I do quite a lot more, including signposting people to training or volunteering opportunities, directing people to financial and legal advice, and listening to people’s concerns and worries.
Many of our participants share similar employment needs, but each also has their own circumstances and support requirements. Working with people with mental health needs requires patience, sensitivity, and an ability to think creatively.
We work with each client to fulfil their needs as best we can. This can take a few weeks, or several months, while we build confidence, develop tools to support job application success, and grow people’s resilience to navigate the stresses and strains of everyday working life.
Thanks to the pandemic I have never physically met any other members of my team. We are nothing if not adaptable and have all slotted into the new remote normal with ease.
So, what will today hold? After a short downhill commute, I will arrive in the office (kitchen), switch on the equipment (phone, laptop, kettle) and review the plan for the day. Today’s client list includes a woman in work who is looking for a more fulfilling role; a man with long-term physical ill health who would like to work again; and a woman who has found a new job following a happy departure from a previously unhappy workplace.
In between phone and online appointments, I review and edit CVs, send links and suggestions for interview tips, and produce internal reports.
High points in my day might be the excitement of a client being offered an interview or job!
Or seeing someone come from a very low point to having the confidence to now launch their own business. Hearing colleagues’ successful client stories is also great and we often share queries and questions throughout the day.
There can be challenges too: working with clients affected by workplace bullying or breaches of employment law amongst others. The best I can do is to recognise what I can do to help, consult the team, and refer to experts and specialists where possible.
My team make this job worth doing. The people we help make this job important. And my home-office colleagues (cats, chickens and tortoises) make this job twice as hard to do but very entertaining. I would highly recommend it!