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East London hospitals boost local community employment through innovative programme

Friday, 21 September 2018 08:00

Image: East London hospitals boost local community employment through innovative programme Hundreds of people from deprived communities in East London have been helped to find secure employment and begin healthier lives in an innovative project led by the National Skills Academy for Health (NSAH) and supported by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

The aspirational Healthcare Works programme, which brought together the NHS with private and voluntary sector organisations, including the NSAH City and East London Excellence Centre and Barts Health NHS Trust, has paved the way for hundreds of school/college-age and local community members to enter employment or begin apprenticeships in the healthcare sector.

Healthcare Works included class room-based teaching, motivational training and work placements. Successful participants were given the opportunity to apply for apprenticeship or job opportunities at the five hospitals run by the Trust.

Over 220 people across the two streams completed the programme with 47.5% of the school/college stream and 60.4% of the community stream gaining an apprenticeship or job upon completion of the programme.

Participants came from a range of backgrounds, including from school, from low-paid or low-skilled employment, and those leaving secure employment in their own countries to escape violence. Four times as many people from the local community applied than were expected.

The collective experiences validate the project’s aims which were to improve community health and wellbeing through effective employment. Participants revealed that their personal lives had been greatly improved by the employment opportunities brought about by the programme.

27-year-old Syed Ali gained many skills working for six years in the food and grocery sector. But none of these roles offered the genuine career progression he was looking for. That all changed in 2017 when he enrolled onto Healthcare Works.

It was a personal loss that made Syed aware of the diverse, yet vital roles needed to keep the NHS running. He is now working permanently at Barts Health, with a promotion already secured.

Syed said: "I am very happy, and my quality of life has improved a lot. The programme gave me the direction I needed. I always believed in myself but it was like an arm being put around my shoulder to guide me. It's beyond my wildest dreams to be where I am now.

"My father passed away in December 2016 and I saw how all the many people worked together to look after him and us, his family. It's nice to now be part of that.”

Over 90 per cent of participants reported the programme had a positive impact on their knowledge, communication and general skills and confidence. And almost eight in ten stated that the course gave them good knowledge about career opportunities in the health sector. Many felt that the programme would increase their chances of finding paid or voluntary work, as well as supporting them to take up further studying.

Kamal Motalib from JPMorgan Chase Foundation said: “It’s imperative that all members of our communities are able to access good quality employment that offers realistic opportunities for progression. Healthcare Works has demonstrated that a coordinated local approach can have a positive impact on not only a large institution like Bart’s Health, but also the community it serves.”

Andrew Attfield, Associate Director Public Health at Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “We are excited to see the positive impact the Healthcare Works Programme has had. Helping the local community access employment and training opportunities within the NHS has also supported the growth of Barts Health’s own talent to fill vacancies and develop a workforce that represents the local community.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our journey with the National Skills Academy for Health, to grow the Excellence Centre and build on the partnerships we have developed to support career progression and opportunities locally.”

Candace Miller, Director of the National Skills Academy for Health, said: “It is a real pleasure to be working with Bart’s Health to improve access to better quality training for the health and care support workforce in the east end of London. We are really pleased with the outcome of the Healthcare Works Programme and hope, through the Excellence Centre Network, we are able to create more opportunities of this nature between the Trusts and local communities.”