Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) has launched an innovative new scheme to help people from BAME communities across Teesside learn more about mental health issues and at the same time, embark on a career with the NHS.
Local people are given the chance to embark on a five week course developed jointly by TEWV, Nur Fitness and Middlesbrough Council’s Community Learning Service. Following on from this, the ladies are invited to volunteer in Teesside mental health hospital, after which there is an opportunity to become a paid member so staff through our temporary staffing team.
TEWV originally started working with Shazia Noor at Nur Fitness in order to increase its access to the South Asian community. It was known the area has an ageing population and also that people from the BAME communities rarely access the support available, such as memory services. As a result, people are often not getting the support they need.
TEWV worked with Shazia to run some focus groups with local ladies, which highlighted the need to acknowledge our ageing community across all diverse backgrounds. It also led to discussions around what good mental health looks like, and the NHS support services which are available. During these discussions, it became apparent that some of these ladies would be interested in pursuing a career in health and social care.
Nur Fitness played a vital role in helping TEWV engage with the local communities, advertising the course through its own networks and encouraging local people to attend. Shazia also advised on other aspects which needed to be included in the course in addition to the important mental health awareness, such as IT skills, writing a CV, accessing the NHS jobs website.
Once the approach and course content was agreed, Middlesbrough Council’s Community Learning Service led on developing the course and facilitating the sessions. TEWV provided mental health content and this helped to establish a link with a familiar face for the ladies when they began volunteering on the wards. One they have completed 30 hours of volunteering, they can apply to join the temporary staff roster. This an opportunity which may not have been open to them without the experience they have gain through the course and their volunteering.
Allison Cook, locality manager, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, said “We saw this as a huge opportunity to change staffing demographics within our Teesside mental health for older people’s services team, ensuring it was more reflective of the local communities. This in turn would help us to break down the barriers about mental ill health, spreading the word within the community that mental health services are accessible to everyone. It works on so many levels, raising awareness of mental health issues locally, bringing a more diverse cultural experience to our teams and wards and helping local people gain employment.”
Shazia Noor, manager, Nur Fitness, said “Nur Fitness is delighted to be part of such a great project which has not only broken barriers on a very taboo subject within the BAME community, but it has also opened the door to hopefully creating a change which will benefit our future generations who suffer from mental health issues.”
Claire Kemp, Ways to Work manager, Middlesbrough Council, said “It has been a great success and has enabled us to engage with people in our communities that may never have walked through the door. Partnership working has been the key to the success of the project. We are looking forward to the future and hope we can deliver more!”
See this story on ITV news here.