Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) have become the first health system in the country to employ two people with past experience of homelessness, as part of a promising new programme.
The pilot initiative, part of the Government’s Access to Employment scheme, has been launched in the hope of gaining an improved understanding of the “systemic and individual” obstacles people are faced with when looking for employment.
As part of the project, two formerly homeless people have been installed into a homeless team and a community treatment team at the Trust, becoming the first of the seven Trusts participating in the scheme to do so.
Anne-Marie Lamb, Senior Nurse International Recruitment and Relocation Support, said: “For CNTW to be the first Trust to get to this stage of the pilot is a massive achievement. The work has instilled hope and shows that everyone has an opportunity.
“It normalises people with lived experience and shows that just because you have been homeless doesn’t mean you can’t move forward.”
Before official employment, the individuals took part in a training course led by UK charity, Groundswell, who focus on finding solutions to end homelessness – the coaching looked at the participant’s past experiences to see if they had any transferrable skills they could use in their potential new positions.
It took just two months from the start of the training for CNTW to offer the trainees employment. Once they’ve started, the successful candidates will work as healthcare support workers, aiming to find a solution to people’s problems and difficulties, which will help support vulnerable people and shield them from possible harm or abuse.
Senior Professional Social Worker, Jan Rutherford, said: “Many people felt having experience of being homeless meant there were barriers to them getting a job. The training helped to encourage and empower attendees and make them feel like they were employable.
“The experience has brought me to tears. It’s all down to the successful individuals. They had the ability, they just hadn’t been given the opportunity and we’ve been able to provide that.
“They’re both really passionate and looking forward to forging their careers. To have healthcare support workers with lived experience and real empathy will bring such value to the teams.”
The programme was open to those in stable positions, with no current accommodation problems.
As it gets evaluated throughout its process, the project will allow the participating Trusts the chance to give people a new start and turn over a new leaf in health and social care, improving the culture and the way in which the NHS operates.