Taking A LEAP With Black Country NHS Trust

A new partnership between a leading Black Country NHS Trust and the Good Shepherd has been launched to help people who have experienced homelessness and complex issues on their journey to meaningful employment.

The Employment and Recovery Service at Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has teamed up with the organisation Good Shepherd to support people who have experience of homelessness to develop the skills and confidence to find work.

The aim of the scheme, called the LEAP Project, enables people who have experienced homelessness to support and prevent others with similar experiences from returning to rough sleeping in Wolverhampton.

The two organisations will work together as part of the project, which will also offer volunteer placements and training to people who have experienced addiction or mental health issues. Not only will the volunteers take part in training opportunities to develop their own skills, they will also help current service users at Good Shepherd.

Laura Ray, Team Lead for Wolverhampton Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Services at Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The team at Wolverhampton IPS Employment Service not only see the need to support individuals into employment, but we also take into account that people may need other support in different areas of their lives and that building links with our local community can help us achieve this support.

“We are always looking for ways to better support our clients, so collaborating with the LEAP Project is a really exciting way we can do this. Working with a local organisation like the Good Shepherd means that our clients can tap into lots of amazing support, from housing advice to studying for a free level 3 health and social care diploma, and get the tailored one-to-one employment support when they feel ready.

“This wrap around support for people that are accessing our service helps to aid their unique journey into a more positive future.”

Good Shepherd has been helping people in Wolverhampton for decades and works to end homelessness in the city while creating sustainable pathways out of poverty.

Chris Cole, Project Manager at Good Shepherd, said: “The Good Shepherd has always been known for the food service supporting people who are experiencing poverty across Wolverhampton, but the charity also delivers a wide range of other services to help those wanting to make positive and sustained improvements to their lives. 

“Much of this work takes a strengths-based approach which is individually tailored to the person, using their values and interests as a basis for change. 

“One such project is the LEAP project, where we empower and upskill people with lived experience of complex issues and provide training and guidance to help them become volunteers within the Good Shepherd, before ultimately, finding employment. 

“With the programme now tried and tested, we are looking forward to hopefully finding candidates who we can put forward for the IPS scheme, ensuring they are ready to take that next step of finding work. 

“Having an achievable end goal is so important for our service users when they work with us and start to make progress, and we really appreciate the partnership with Black Country Healthcare which gives added structure to our programme and something for people to aim for.”

Vocational Specialists at the Trust are now working closely with the team at Good Shepherd to ease the path to work for volunteers who are ready to enter the job market.

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