Working Win – oped

Most of us will experience ill health at some point. Sickness is therefore something that affects all employees – and all employers – across the Sheffield City Region.

But while many of us are fortunate enough to only suffer from the occasional bug, for many people struggling with chronic mental or physical illnesses, the right job is hard to find.

Research has proved that being in fulfilling work is vital for people’s health and wellbeing. But for thousands of people in our region with mild to moderate health conditions, work is difficult to manage alongside their health.

That’s why, here in the Sheffield City Region, I’m delighted that we have partnered with the NHS to deliver the innovative Working Win project.

More than 4,000 people have already signed up to this pioneering project, one of only two health-led employment trials in the UK, since it was launched last year. Working Win is the largest global research trial of its kind and I am proud that we are part of it. Research led here in our region could pave the way for a new way of support for people who want to work, but are struggling to do so because of their health.

The trial is researching the best type of support for people with mental or physical health conditions, who want to find a job or are stay in work.

Specialist work coaches are helping people to overcome some of the barriers to their employment, while companies have also signed up to learn more about how they can better support their employees.

If the trial proves successful, Working Win could lead the way for this sort of personalised support being introduced nationwide. And there is no doubt that change on a national scale is much-needed.

That change would involve a greater number of businesses employing those people with physical and mental health problems who can work, and want to work – providing benefits to employers and employees alike.

Although the Working Win trial is still ongoing, we have already heard many positive stories from those who have been involved.

One participant, Neil, had been off work for six months with ill health when he had his first appointment with a Working Win work coach.

Both Neil and his employer received support through the scheme, which resulted in Neil agreeing a phased return and other adjustments to his working environment which would make his return to work easier.

Neil said he has been very happy since returning to work, and practical changes – such as taking a short break when he needs to, and receiving extra training – have helped. As a result, his health and confidence has improved.

People like Neil are why the Working Win trial is so important. The scheme is still open to participants to sign up, before the referral window ends on 31 October this year.

I look forward to seeing the impact of this trial and hope that this pioneering research, carried out here in the Sheffield City Region, will have a real impact on future employment support in the UK.

This is great news for employers and employees alike, and yet more proof of the innovation our region is famed for.

SIDE BAR

What is Working Win?

The health-led employment trial is a randomised control trial. Those who are eligible to take part will be randomly assigned to be part of the research group or the control group.

The research group will receive Individual Placement Support, including one to one sessions with a work coach for up to 12 months. The control group will be directed to existing services.

The trial is entirely voluntary and open to anybody over the age of 18 who lives in South Yorkshire and is registered with a GP. Participants can self -refer or be referred by a medical professional.

Find out more at www.workingwin.com or search Working Win on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.