An employment service run by Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), has been granted £3,240 to loan laptops to people they help, to make sure they can access online job applications and interviews.
The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Employment Service, supports people who are being treated by the Trust’s Community Mental Health Teams to find, or stay in, paid work.
The grant has been awarded by The SHINE Fund, the official charity of CNTW which uses donations to provide the extra funding that makes a big difference to people’s recovery.
This includes a sizeable donation to the SHINE Fund, distributed by NHS Charities Together, from their national Covid-19 appeal, which got a particular boost when the late Captain Sir Tom Moore walked laps around his garden to raise money in the run-up to his 100th birthday last April.
John Bolland, Service Lead for the IPS Employment Service, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Sir Captain Tom and everyone who raised money for the national Covid-19 appeal to make projects like this possible.
“Our team works hand-in-hand with the Community Mental Health Teams because good, fulfilling, paid work can be really important to improving someone’s mental health, self-esteem, and overall wellbeing.
“Studies have found that 90% of people with mental health issues would like to work, but only 7% have actually been able to secure paid employment. That’s what we are working to change.”
Many of the patients do not have stable access to the internet or a laptop – which have become more vital with Covid-19 driving most job assessments and interviews online. With libraries, Job Centres and other places usually offering free computer access being closed during the lockdown restrictions, it has become more difficult for people to seek employment.
The SHINE Fund grant has been used to purchase and maintain four laptops, which will also come with a 4G internet connection (meaning no home broadband is needed to access the internet).
In-between each loan, laptops will be cleaned, and their profile wiped by CNTW’s Informatics department before being passed on to the next user. They will also be able to be remotely controlled, so that IPS staff can provide direct support if someone is struggling with using a site or software.
The laptops will be loaned to people across North Cumbria and the North East who are receiving support from the IPS team, for around two months at a time when the person is ready to start applying and interviewing for jobs. The team hope that about 20 people per year will benefit from this pilot scheme.
Mr Bolland said: “We hope this pilot will be a pioneering way of helping to end the cycle faced by some of the people we support, where they don’t have the money to purchase a computer or a good internet connection, but because of that they can’t get a job to get the funds they need.
“This project will undoubtedly help some of the people we support secure their dream jobs, improving their mental health in the process.”