Military charity Walking With The Wounded (‘WWTW’) has been named as an IPS Centre of Excellence for Veterans by the Centre for Mental Health, becoming the first veteran IPS service in the UK to be given this status.
The award is in recognition of the employment service provided to veterans by WWTW in partnership with the NHS Veterans Mental Health transition, intervention and liaison service (Midlands and East Of England) and Essex Partnership University Trust (EPUT).
WWTW began working within the Essex veterans mental health team in November 2015 supporting those ex-servicemen and women who are seeking support for their mental health and are unemployed, underemployed or at risk of losing employment. Since then WWTW has successfully got 39 veterans into sustainable employment and secured 49 paid outcomes.
WWTW uses an Individual Placement and Support approach (IPS). IPS supports people with mental health difficulties into employment. It involves intensive, individual support, placement in paid employment, and time-unlimited in-work support for both the employee and the employer.
Furthermore there is overwhelming international evidence that IPS is much more effective than traditional approaches (such as vocational training) in successfully getting people into work. Where people have found meaningful employment evidence shows that this can; minimise the harmful effects of long term sickness absence, improve quality of life and wellbeing, lead to better health outcomes, promote recovery and aid rehabilitation.
Amy Franklin, Programme Manager, Walking With The Wounded commented: “We are thrilled to receive this recognition for our veterans employment service in Essex. Working alongside the NHS veteran mental health team we are able to provide employment support hand-in-hand with mental health treatment, which is so important for the service users wellbeing and recovery journey.”
Diane Palmer, Veterans Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (Midlands and East of England) commented: “I am delighted that WWTW and TILS East of England has achieved Centre of excellence status for our special alliance to deliver Veteran specific IPS. This project has taken nearly 3 years to get to this exceptional level and the benefits to our veterans has been significant. Our WWTW employment mentor, who is jointly embedded within our specialist NHS Veterans mental health service and EPUT vocational services has developed excellent relationships with local employers and other agencies that support Veterans and has assisted many veterans into meaningful paid employment, regardless of the severity or complexity of their mental health condition.”
All WWTW Employment Advisors embedded across the UK have been trained in the principles of IPS. Where the charity is embedded in Mental Health teams WWTW is pursuing the Centre of Excellence recognition.
Joe from Essex is a veteran who has been supported via the IPS service. He explains his journey:
I was from a family of soldiers in Scotland. My early life was not easy but I was determined to make something of myself drove me to strive for the British Army Parachute Regiment; where I served 16 years.
I was medically discharged from the forces with some physical injuries from of a training exercise. I later found work and was very successful, but the long days and hours spent on the road contributed to negative feelings I was having and I subsequently left the job.
I engaged with Veterans First, known as TILS, and was referred for mental health therapy through the Walking With The Wounded mental health programme, Head Start. As I was unemployed at the time, I was also referred to a Walking With The Wounded Employment Advisor, Gayle Good. Gayle initially supported me into a driving role as a stopgap to help ensure I had an income to support my family.
I had a number of qualifications but not in the area I wanted to pursue. Working with Gayle on my career goals, together we established that I was interested in the land-based sector and Gayle referred me to a residential course that enabled me to find out more about the careers available. On return home, Gayle got me involved with a farm based volunteer project for disadvantaged young people.
After some months the farm advertised a paid position for a Programme Facilitator, I applied and was successful. Gayle then continued to support me when I was working to ensure that everything is going well. I have now been working on the farm for several months and I can certainly say I have found my place and I’m thoroughly enjoying being outdoors while being able to help those less fortunate.