Minister visits innovative Bedfordshire employment pilot On Thursday 7 January 2016, the Rt. Hon. Alistair Burt, Minister of State for Community and Social Care, paid a visit to the Day Resource Centre in Bedford Health Visit to meet service users and staff who have been involved in a community-based project providing employment support to people who have had an episode of mental illness or on-going mental health issues. The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) scheme offers one to one personalised support to assist people with mental health issues in gaining employment. Following a period of illness, people can feel a loss of confidence, or may feel anxious about their abilities. They may feel worried about returning to work or may have had to leave their job while unwell. This can be a stressful time for anyone, so the IPS scheme supports people to overcome barriers to employment in practical and emotionally supportive ways. The team can help with job searches to find the fields of work that they want to do. They can help with setting out CVs, job applications and covering letters and offer support with interviews. The team can provide encouragement and moral support to help people to stay positive and maintain their self-belief that the right job is waiting for them. And they can approach employers directly to develop new job opportunities which are a good match for their clients’ skills. The minister had an opportunity to talk to some of the people who have benefited from the IPS scheme and are now back in work. He was able to hear how they had felt and what had helped at various steps along the way. The national charity Centre for Mental Health is working with the service as part of a government-funded programme to increase access to IPS employment support. The Centre’s director of programmes, Jan Hutchinson said: “Employment can be an important part of recovery for many people with mental health problems. Through Individual Placement and Support (IPS) we know that many more people can be helped to get and keep work, and as a result to enjoy better health and life chances. Centre for Mental Health is delighted to be working with mental health services in Bedfordshire and other local areas across England, with Department of Health support, to ensure more people get the benefit of an IPS service.” John Wilkins, Managing Director Bedfordshire and Luton Mental Health and Wellbeing Services, said: “We have been delighted to be part of this pilot. Work has an important role to play in keeping mentally well. It provides focus to our day, social contact, distraction and can be stimulating and interesting. It is good to see the benefits it has had for people who have been supported by the scheme.” Read more about Individual Placement Support here.