An EU-backed programme to help 6,000 people recovering from substance misuse and mental health conditions into work has been launched by Welsh Minister for Social Services and Public Health, Rebecca Evans.
The £7.2 million ‘Out of Work Service’, which has received more than £4.8 million from the European Social Fund, is helping people aged over 25 to overcome the barriers they face to gaining and staying in employment.
It aims to provide tailor-made peer mentoring and specialist employment support, while recognising the particular challenges people with a history of substance misuse, alcohol misuse, and or mental health conditions can face when looking for work, or when starting work and trying to stay in their job.
The intention is to extend the programme in time to almost 1,500 young participants, aged 16 to 24, to support them into education, training or work.
Launching the service, Rebecca Evans, said: "Substance misuse and mental health conditions are major health issues which affect individuals, families and communities. In many cases, substance misuse and mental health issues combine. But these health concerns are not always obvious and can be difficult to tackle without support.
“Being in work can help people overcome such issues, providing structure and purpose, a sense of self-worth and confidence – but the issues themselves are often a barrier to employment.
“This service is providing a unique package of peer mentoring and specialist employment advice. Peers – people with the lived experience of substance misuse and mental health problems – are ideally placed to provide support, practical advice, and encouragement. Meanwhile, employment advisors can offer specialist advice, including CV writing skills and training in interview techniques.”
The project will also provide transitional support to participants who gain employment for up to three months after they start a new job and will work with employers to encourage them to take on employees who are recovering from substance misuse and mental health problems.