Employment support service puts wellbeing at the centre of job hunts

Two women in discussion

Routes Employment Service helps people living with mental health issues to find the right work for them - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Trying to find a job while also struggling with your mental health is a tall order, but the Routes Employment Service offers help and support to enable clients to find meaningful employment. Unemployment in itself is a big cause of stress and anxiety, but when you combine it with an existing mental health issue it can make finding a job seem impossible.
The Routes Employment Service, run by mental health charity Norfolk and Waveney Mind, helps people living with mental health issues to find the right work for them. Based within community mental health teams across Norfolk and Waveney, the team work closely alongside clinicians to provide support and guidance in supporting people to find meaningful paid employment, using the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model which puts the person referred at the centre of that support. 

Head and shoulders picture of Debbie Rudd, service manager at Routes Employment Service

Debbie Rudd, service manager at Routes Employment Service - Credit: Norfolk and Waveney Mind


“We know that unemployment can contribute to poor mental health, in particular those with severe or enduring mental health issues who may not feel that employment is possible for them,” said Debbie Rudd, service manager at Routes Employment Service. 
“Evidence shows that people with severe mental health issues who successfully gain employment show reduced symptoms, improved confidence and quality of life as well as less reliance on clinical or medical intervention. 
“Ultimately, paid employment can give someone meaning and purpose in life, which supports their recovery journey.”
The team of Employment Support Advisors work to the person’s strengths as a starting point and support people to look for paid employment soon after entering the programme.  
Routes is commissioned by NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group to work with people referred by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.  

Case studies 

  • Sarah was unemployed for almost four years before being referred to Routes Employment Services in April 2020. 
    Sarah wanted to work in mental health as she wanted to help others on their recovery journey, so she worked with her employment support advisor on her application form for a peer support worker role with Norfolk and Waveney Mind. 
    Sarah was successful with her application for the part-time position and is enjoying her new role while continuing to receive in-work support from Routes. 
  • Angela’s parents were despairing of her situation before she was referred to Routes. They could not see a light at the end of the tunnel and could only dream of her having a steady job that she enjoyed, but after working with Routes she was able to find and keep a paid job. 
    They said: “Angela has continued to develop and shine and it is a testament to the dedication of the work Routes do to support their clients. Without the employment support advisor’s invaluable intervention and help, Angela would not find herself in the favourable and encouraging position she is in today.” 

Don't miss our free-to-attend virtual event, Open Up, which is brought to you by the Eastern Daily Press in association with the Norfolk County Council, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Norfolk & Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group and Mind Norfolk and Waveney.

Open Up will see a series of virtual workshops, interviews and debates take place online through Friday, February 12 with people being offered the opportunity to watch the sessions free of charge. Sign up here


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