Ex-Forces patients who are being treated for mental and physical health conditions can now access one-to-one employment support through pilot projects backed by NHS England.
Health professionals can refer veterans for ongoing support through The Poppy Factory’s employment consultants, who are embedded within local NHS networks.
Integrated care and employment support
Stable employment is an important factor in good mental health. By working collaboratively with NHS services, the pilot projects will seek to reach more ex-Forces patients and improve their employment and health outcomes by integrating care and employment plans. In some cases, veterans may be referred for employment support through social prescribing.
With one-to-one guidance offered throughout their journey to employment, veterans will be supported to overcome barriers and work towards positive life changes.
New two-year pilot projects funded by NHS England are now under way in the areas around Plymouth and Portsmouth. Employment support linked to health services on The Wirral, launched in 2019 and currently funded by the Forces in Mind Trust, will also be extended through further support from NHS England.
Better health and wellbeing
Deirdre Mills, Chief Executive of The Poppy Factory, said: “The veterans we help often have complex conditions. Dedicated employment support can make all the difference, helping these men and women transform their lives, resulting in increased stability, greater financial security and better health and wellbeing. We are excited to be working with NHS partners to create stronger local support networks for those who need it most.”
Pilot projects underway
In Portsmouth, Employment Consultant Lisa Battersby is embedded within NHS Solent’s Talking Change mental health service. She will work collaboratively with therapists at Talking Change, and a wider network of local NHS mental and physical health services. Together they will help clients work towards meaningful and rewarding employment alongside their clinical treatment.
Dr Mahdi T. Ghomi, Clinical Director & Consultant Counselling Psychologist for IAPT & Veteran Services at Solent NHS Trust, said: “I am delighted to start our partnership with The Poppy Factory and enhance the support we offer our veterans. We know from our experience finding the right employment and supporting our veterans through the employment process, can have a major impact on their mental health wellbeing.
“Our veteran communities have a wealth of knowledge and skills and can be a great asset to our businesses and organisations in the city. It is crucial we empower them and help them find their path and this project can help us move towards that goal.”
In Plymouth, Employment Consultant Neal Crump is embedded within the Waterside Primary Care Network. He will work with the surgeries and clinicians within the network, along with other local NHS services, to refer veterans for employment support.
Jo Lloyd-Davies, Practice Manager for West Hoe Surgery in Plymouth, said: “West Hoe Surgery are delighted to welcome The Poppy Factory to the practice. Through their work in supporting veterans with health conditions wanting help with finding employment, we can offer a much-needed additional service to our patients.”
On The Wirral, Employment Consultant Andrew Pickersgill is based at The Stein Centre in Birkenhead, working closely with Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to provide support for local veterans.
Anyone who is unemployed, served in the Armed Forces for one day or more, and has a physical or mental health condition can register for employment support. To register online visit poppyfactory.org/register