A scheme which supports people in recovery to find permanent employment was celebrated last week in South Tyneside and Gateshead.
The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) programme provides support to people over the age of 16 who have experienced issues with drugs and alcohol. Finding meaningful employment can significantly help with a person’s recovery from drug and alcohol use, so this innovative programme is a great addition to local services and an integral part of a person’s recovery journey.
Sitting within the commissioned Substance Misuse Treatment Service of South Tyneside and covering both South Tyneside and Gateshead localities, Humankind’s South Tyneside and Gateshead IPS scheme is the first of its kind in the UK to be hosted across two local authorities.
Since it was established in October 2021, the service has worked with 154 people providing dedicated, tailored support and advice in their search for rewarding employment. The team also offers in-work support for both employees and employers to ensure that the employment can be sustained.
Dame Carol Black, whose landmark Independent Review of Drugs led to the publication of the cross-government drug strategy ‘From Harm to Hope’, attended the celebration event. Also in attendance were Councillor Anne Hetherington, Lead Member for Adults, Health and Independence at South Tyneside Council, and Alice Wiseman and Tom Hall, Directors for Public Health for Gateshead and South Tyneside respectively.
Dame Carol Black’s review highlighted that, alongside treatment, meaningful activity makes an important contribution to sustaining recovery from drug use. There is considerable evidence that employment can improve treatment outcomes, reduce the frequency and severity of relapse, and reduce re-presentations to services.
The Gateshead and South Tyneside programme has been described as “one of the standout teams among the new areas.”
A person who has been supported by the service said they would “highly recommend this programme to anyone accessing services, who is looking to work and maintain employment in the future. The advice and support I have been given has made me realise that change is not impossible and with the right encouragement and help pointing you in the right direction a positive change can be achieved.”
Another said that “the support I have received has been phenomenal… I am so happy to be back at work and in a job I love.”
Councillor Hetherington said: “This programme is an absolute trailblazer. Providing support to help people find and stay in employment is an integral part of the recovery journey and I’m delighted that people who want to work are being given this opportunity. This fits well with our vision of helping people in South Tyneside to live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives.
“It is fantastic that Individual Placement Support is giving people confidence and motivation. As a result of this project, more people can now look forward to even brighter futures.”
Gateshead’s Director of Public Health Alice Wiseman said: “This event is about celebrating the successes of the amazing recovery community that we have in our local area. The IPS programme plays a key role in equipping individuals with the skills and self-esteem needed to secure rewarding roles, which helps people stay well in their recovery as good employment improves health and wellbeing in many ways. Obviously having an income and financial stability is important, but good work also offers more social interactions and a sense of identity and purpose.
“Celebrating these successes both shows people who are struggling with addiction that there is light at the end of the tunnel, as well as helping to tackle the stigma surrounding addiction, which is one of the biggest barriers to people seeking support.”
To support recovery and the movement from treatment into work, the government is investing a further £21 million to roll out IPS for people in drug or alcohol treatment across England by the end of 2024/25. This brings the total funding for this new programme to over £39 million across the next three years.
After initially launching as a Government pilot project at Humankind’s service in Staffordshire, we have now been commissioned to deliver the programme in South Tyneside and Gateshead, Durham, Cumbria, Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale and Barnsley.
For more information Humankind’s IPS services, please visit our IPS webpage.
You can also read Christine’s story to find out more about the benefits of IPS.