Supporting people to find work through Work and Health Programme Pioneer

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Across the country, our colleagues are dedicated to supporting thousands of people back into work. With nearly a dozen employment and skills programmes currently in operation, each offers our participants tailored support to address the unique challenges and barriers they may face when looking to return to the labour market.  

Since the launch of Work and Health Programme Pioneer in September last year, we’ve been supporting people across Wales, London and Southern England – helping them to learn new skills and find sustainable employment.  

Funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, Pioneer is a specialised self-referral employment programme for people not currently in work including those with additional barriers, such as people with disabilities, veterans, carers or refugees. Support is offered for up to 15 months and includes helping people to learn new skills, build confidence, improve their health and wellbeing, find a new job or move into self-employment.  

In Wales, single father Mark was looking to rejoin the labour market but needed additional support to make this a reality.  

He had previous experience working in the care sector but made the decision to leave his position after his mental health began to suffer following a difficult divorce and the challenges he faced caring for his son with complex needs.  

After being unemployed for more than 12 months, Mark, from Wrexham, joined Work and Health Programme Pioneer in October 2023, where he met with his Employment Advisor, Alix Taylor-Hay.  


Reflecting on his struggles prior to joining Pioneer, Mark explained: After being off work for 12 months you start to lose touch with a lot of other aspects of life in terms of routine, and motivation. My mental health was on a decline already. So, by losing the routine of working, you lose motivation to do simple tasks because the structure is taken away from you.”

I had also developed separation anxiety disorder, after being separated from my son half at the time. So when you when you add them all together, it became hard to even come out the house. When I first got to the office, I was so nervous that couldn’t even hold the pen to sign myself in.

Due to the financial insecurity from his time being unemployed, Mark needed to find a position that fitted around school hours so he could continue to focus on caring for his son. With Alix’s help, he was keen to explore new industries. 

Mark added:I needed a role that could be done within school hours so it would not affect arrangements with my son, which was paramount because he has specific needs of his own. The role was something that had to be tailored to meet my situation.” 

Alix began by improving Mark’s CV, completing a Better Off Calculation and ensuring his childcare expenses were reimbursed so he had the freedom to attend meetings and interviews without worrying about his finances.  

Mark also wanted to gain new skills in hospitality, so Alix suggested a Level Two qualification to broaden his potential career options, through a member of our Community Partnership Network, Digital College. 

Mark with his Employment Advisor

Alix explained: When I first met Mark, it was clear that he really wanted to work, but he was nervous, and struggling with his mental health. He also had a lot of financial barriers being a single father.  

We did a Better Off Calculation to prove that it was better off for him to be in work. And then due to his mental health, we spoke about the support that Work and Health Programme Pioneer could provide him with whilst he was on the programme.” 

Together they explored different employment options, and within two weeks, Mark successfully applied for a role as a self-employed delivery driver which meant he could have full-time hours with the flexibility to care for his son. 

Reflecting on his experience, Mark said: “Thanks to Maximus, I found work within a couple of weeks. Getting that routine and motivation back does raise your self-esteem. It does give you confidence and belief. I just feel like my old self again, and it feels good to be back to how life used to be.”

To find out more about Work and Health Programme Pioneer and whether it could support you, visit our website. 

22 January, 2024