Supporting people to work means supporting people to better health

We know that, employment is linked to good health. Statistically, if you’re employed, you’re likely to be more healthy.

In 2006, DWP commissioned a scientific evidence review of the links between health, work and wellbeing – Is work good for your health and well-being? An independent review (pdf). It concluded that:

…Work is generally good for physical and mental health and well-being. Worklessness is associated with poorer physical and mental health and well-being. Work can be therapeutic and can reverse the adverse health effects of unemployment.

Gateway was originally set up to help people into formal training or employment – and so to better health. This pre-employment training provides a “gateway” into employment – it’s what gave our organisation its name.

These days, our Employment Access, Skills and Training (EAST) department continues to work in the areas of unemployment, and supporting people to better health is still at the heart of everything we do.

What does EAST do?

EAST works with communities to enable people to work. We do this by offering work experience and paid employment, alongside vital support and training, to people who may not otherwise be able to access it. For example, in February we wrote about our Training To Care course, which offers funded opportunities for those who want to get into care work.

Going from being out of work to being in work is a big lifestyle change. It’s not easy to go from being unemployed for months, sometimes years, and straight into a job. So we support people to manage this change.

Many of the people we work with have some really useful and potentially transferable life experiences, but come up against barriers to work. They may not have everything an employer is looking for: the right qualifications, a certain amount of work experience, or employer references. Some may not have finished education; some have low literacy levels; some might have a police record. A lot of the people we see – especially younger people – have just never really learnt how to work, or developed a “work ethic”, yet.

So we support people to overcome these barriers. We help them to demonstrate their skills and experience, and to gain the work experience, qualifications, references and good work practices that they need to become employed – and therefore healthier.

We do this via our own programmes and working with other organisations. For example, Pop Up Talent offers young people new ways to look at work – to help them unearth hidden talents and to see potential employment in a broader, more positive way.

The “Skills Escalator”

The EAST department covers four main areas: Volunteering, Traineeships, Apprenticeships and Paraprofessionals. These provide a training and employment pathway – also known to us as the “skills escalator”.
Skills-Escalator

This allows people to enter at any stage of the pathway, and receive training and support to move up – as Farzana did when she trained with us before becoming a paraprofessional Pregnancy Outreach Worker, then moved on to begin a degree course in Nursing.

Put very simply, we see people in communities who have a wealth of life experience … and we see employers – particularly in the health sector – with needs. So we work to put these together. People think that to work in health and social care you have to be a doctor or a nurse, and that you need to be “a professional”. This isn’t true. Actually, we can’t think of a job that isn’t available in the health sector – from hairdresser to helicopter pilot!

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