The Leaders of all 10 Greater Manchester Councils, along with GM’s Fire and Police Services, have pledged to improve and expand a successful Greater Manchester back to work scheme.
The Working Well pilot programme has, so far, worked with over 4,000 unemployed Greater Manchester residents since early 2014, to help overcome their barriers to work.
Each person taking part in the scheme receives an individually-tailored package of support developed with a personal key-worker. This support ensures that the issues holding people back from work are tackled at the right time, in the right order by the right people.
With the signing of the Working Well Pledge, the scheme will now expand to help another 15,000 people in GM with an eventual target of 50,000. The Pledge means authorities will adopt more flexible recruitment policies to support Working Well participants and improve the way their service supports participants.
A Stockport mum of two who signed up to Working Well pilot has given the scheme full credit for helping her overcome her debilitating depression and get back to work.
Debbie Daniels lost her job working in a care home back in 2012 and says it was far more than her career that disappeared overnight.
“I lost contact with the people I had been caring for over many years and who were a significant part of my life. I experienced a kind of bereavement and it completely knocked me for six.”
With a family to support, Debbie tried to get another job but her spiral of decline continued. She knew her health was suffering, and her children noticed how their once-happy mum just didn’t smile anymore.
“I shut myself off from everybody, including my family, and at times the pain was unbearable,” she added. “Luckily, I sought medical help and being diagnosed with clinical depression proved to be the turning point.”
Debbie signed up to the Working Well programme delivered by employment specialists Ingeus on behalf of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and was partnered with key worker Janine Ryan. Together with Ingeus’s mental health team they helped to break down Debbie’s barriers.
“Janine understood exactly what I was going through, and she and her team spent a lot of time helping me come to terms with my anxiety and depression,” added Debbie. “Slowly I began to see there could be a future for me back in the career I loved most, but which I had rejected because of the hurt it had caused me.”
Back on her feet, Debbie was invited for an interview with Fusion Care, which provides supported accommodation for young people during their transition to independence. With her previous job experience and skills, she was the natural choice for the job.
“We’re always looking for carers who have the knowledge, empathy and right approach to working with vulnerable young people,” said Kelly Robinson, practice manager for Fusion Care. “Debbie ticked all those boxes and more besides, and so we were delighted to offer her a job.”
Ingeus key worker Janine added, “Working Well is all about building relationships of trust with our clients. Once Debbie believed in us she started to believe in herself once again, and that made all the difference. She’s now a confident person and doing the job she does well – so well, in fact, that she’s helping us as we support other jobseekers. Her story is inspiring and she’s able to help others who are experiencing health issues, and encouraging them to rebuild their lives through having a job.”
Councillor Sean Anstee, GMCA lead for employment and skills, said: “Debbie’s inspiring story proves that Working Well works. That’s why I’m delighted that Greater Manchester leaders have pledged to help support the expansion of the scheme.
“By working together in Greater Manchester, we can create solutions locally that deliver real skills, jobs and better lives for people across GM. That has to be what devolution is all about.”