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Claire’s confidence boost from the Work Placement programme

07 Feb 19 - 07 Feb 20

In October 2018, our service user Claire completed an 8 week work placement with the Performance Improvement team as part of the Work Placement programme.

The Work Placement programme is about helping our service users get back into work through a work placement with us. This is an ideal opportunity for them to gain and refresh skills, obtain an updated reference and acquire new found confidence.

Here is what Claire said about the programme when we spoke to her.

How did you hear about the Work Placement programme and what made you want to take part?

The Employment Vocational Advisor for my team told me about a new work placement pilot and put me in touch with Lucy Anson-Golding, Senior Employment and Vocational Advisor for the Work Placements programme, to find out more.

One of my biggest challenges was confidence or rather; the lack of it. This pilot seemed perfect, I would experience being back at work, but in a supported environment.

Can you tell us about the process before you started the work placement?

I met with Lucy weekly. She explained the placement in detail, the aims and how long it would be for. We talked about my career history, skills and experiences, and we discussed what I felt happy doing, for example working in an office, and equally important - what I didn’t want to do!

We discussed my views on how I saw the placement progressing, how many hours I felt I could manage and how I wanted to spread this out over the week.

I looked at the HPFT jobs website to get an idea of the type of work the Trust did and looked at some of the job descriptions with Lucy.

Lucy was able to match me to an available placement where I could use skills I’d already gained from my previous jobs. She also spent time with the team where the placement was and gave me good insight of the type of work I would be doing.

What was your new role?

I worked in the Performance Improvement team at 99 Waverley Road, St Albans. The Performance Improvement team analyse the performance of our services and set up systems to support good performance.

My duties included updating service user records on the PARIS system. It was extremely important that this was done accurately as the data would be used in reports. I was given formal training to learn how to use PARIS, but also had the support from my team when I had any queries.

What was your favourite part?

I really enjoyed being part of a team again; I had felt very isolated and out of touch being out of work for so long. Although meeting new people was nerve-wracking, it took me a while to remember names, but I shouldn’t have worried as everyone was so welcoming and friendly. The work was interesting as I got to understand more about what HPFT does and I felt that in a very small way I was contributing towards something that had really helped me.

What challenges did you overcome?

Initially my biggest challenge was overcoming the nerves and anxieties OF having to go to an unknown place and meet new people. Ultimately I had to overcome the great fear that I was no longer ‘employable’ and that I’d lost the knowledge, skills and confidence to get back into work.

How has the Work Placement programme helped you and would you recommend it to other service users?

I would wholeheartedly recommend it! It has helped me overcome my biggest fears and given me the confidence to believe in myself. The thought of returning to work has become a lot less daunting.

It has helped me get back into the good routine which had slipped considerably before I did the placement. As a result, it made me think how I can support my own wellbeing when I do return to work properly.

Have you got any tips for future interns on the Work Placement programme?

It’s natural to have worries and concerns to start off with, but these will quickly go when you start the placement. You will get the most benefit out of the placement by really being involved as part of a team (offering to do the tea run is always welcome), and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you are doing a piece of work. And don’t forget to think of all the things you overcome each day you spend on the placement and look at them as great achievements.

What are your next steps?

I’m planning on getting back to work as soon as possible, to find a full time job in the same role as I have had and have enjoyed in the past.

The Placement Manager's story

Claire’s manager was Suji Jeerasinghe, Performance Improvement Analyst in the Performance Improvement team. Here is her story:

How did you find out about the Work Placement programme and what attracted you to the scheme?

It was covered in the monthly Team Brief, which was discussed by my manager at a team meeting. I approached my manager about it as we have a team of staff who are very used to training staff, so could easily accommodate a placement like this.

Tell us about the first day and the support you provided:

Claire and I met in the morning and had an insightful talk about her story and background. I explained what we do and how the team fits in at HPFT. I informed Claire that she can be flexible about start times etc. but she was adamant that she wanted to stick to a regular work pattern as much as possible. The team were also very helpful in showing her how to do various tasks.

For other potential hosts that are interested, what was the time commitment like?

Claire needed very little support after the initial induction period. I feel it was a successful placement as there is a lot of background work that happens before the placement to ensure that people are matched to suitable roles based on their strengths and skills.

What have you learned since having an intern on a work placement within the team?

There are some things we take for granted such as abbreviations. Claire has kindly compiled a list of abbreviations and their meanings that she has learned throughout her placement which has been very helpful for when we hopefully host our next intern.

Would you recommend the Work Placements programme to other managers in the Trust?

Yes, it’s a great way of contributing to the recovery journey and did not take up too much of the team’s time. 

Lucy, Work Placement SEVA tells us why Claire's placement was a success

Lucy Anson-Golding is the Senior Employment and Vocational Advisor (SEVA) for the Work Placement Programme. Here is what she told us.

Getting to know Claire

I began working with Claire in June 2018. We met weekly to unpack exactly what it was that she wanted to gain from doing a work placement in the Trust and I then sought to match her preferences and skills to the right team.

Finding a suitable placement

When Suji approached me I knew this was the perfect work placement for Claire as she wanted to work with software that she was familiar and highly skilled in using (Excel) and learn new systems to build her confidence. She also wanted to work in an office environment and in a supportive team; the Performance Improvement team were just that.

I spent some time with Suji and the team to really see what the day to day duties of the work placement would involve and to gain a perspective on the different roles and dynamics within the team. I then fed this back to Claire who also thought that this would be a great match for her. I supported Claire to complete the relevant HR checks and liaised with Suji regularly to update on our progress and eventually agreed a start date.

The placement

We planned the practical logistics of the placement, commute, parking, ID badge etc. and Claire started with the team on 9 October 2018. She completed Paris training and settled in to the work and in to the team remarkably quickly. I met with Claire on a weekly basis to monitor how things were going and provide support where necessary. Claire, Suji and I had two Placement Review meetings during the placement, one half-way through to review progress and set targets for the remainder of the placement and one at the end to evaluate the experience for both Claire and Suji and gain feedback in order to shape the future development of the programme.

The conclusion

This placement was a tremendous success in not only being of benefit to the host team in having another pair of skilled hands to help get through their workload but also to provide Claire with new-found confidence and knowledge.

Claire and I are now updating her CV with these new skills and experiences and applying for full-time paid roles.




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