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NHS Coventry and Warwickshire ICB has been selected as one of the Vanguard areas that will deliver the ‘WorkWell’ pilot - a new work and health support service designed to help people with health conditions remain in or return to work.

The ICB has been awarded £1.74m to deliver the pilot that will connect people who are recently unemployed or at risk of unemployment due to mental ill health to local support services to help them overcome barriers to employment.

The pilot will bring together a range of key local partners who can provide the holistic support that participants need to help them sustain or get back into work.

For example, the Employment and Skills Services at both Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council will play a vital role in providing person centred employment support with advice, training and strong connections to local employers, the NHS will support with any physical and mental health concerns, and voluntary and community sector organisations will provide specialised support in their specific area of expertise.

The breadth of partners involved in the pilot will be crucial in supporting participants and played a key role in both the bid and the decision to award the pilot to Coventry and Warwickshire.

WorkWell is a voluntary service, so eligible people will be able to self-refer, or may be referred via their GP, employer or the community sector.

Once referred, each participant will work with an in-house WorkWell counsellor to develop a tailored plan which could include support for their mental and physical health, employability skills, or other issues such as debt and financial health.

The aim of the pilot is to reduce the number of people who are prevented from working due to ill health by offering support and ensuring that the appropriate workplace adjustments are in place. Evidence shows that work is an effective way to improve wellbeing – reducing the risk of depression, improving physical health, and building self-confidence and financial independence.

The pilot offers an opportunity to further develop the work that has already taken place across Coventry and Warwickshire to address health inequalities and improve access to work. This includes Coventry gaining international recognition as a Marmot City over the past decade, Warwickshire introducing the innovative Fair Chance Employment Programme and, the creation of a new Health and Care Employability Academy for Coventry and Warwickshire.

Delivery partners will include the ICB, Warwickshire County Council, Coventry City Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, South Warwickshire University NHS Foundation Trust, the West Midlands Combined Authority, DWP, voluntary and community sector organisations and local employers.

This is one of 15 WorkWell pilots that are being rolled out across England in October by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). If successful, these pilots will inform the possible future rollout of a national WorkWell service.

Phil Johns, Chief Executive Officer of NHS Coventry and Warwickshire ICB, said:

“I am delighted that Coventry and Warwickshire has been chosen as a WorkWell Vanguard area. As an ICB, we are firmly committed to playing our part in tackling the causes of health inequalities and recognise the role that good work has on positive life and health outcomes.

“We are excited at the opportunity to work with partners across Coventry and Warwickshire to continue the good work that is already taking place on employability and skills locally. By improving access to health and work support, we can help local people to overcome barriers to employment and thrive in work.”

More information can be found on the website.

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