"Our team had very little knowledge of mental health issues prior to offering this placement"
Last year, Starboard PM - a boutique construction project management firm - teamed up with St Andrew's to offer patients the opportunity to gain valuable work experience.
Starboard PM undertakes projects across the UK, handling things such as planning permission, structural engineering and quantity surveying. They are a growing team, and wanted to expand while offering something back to the community.
Director, Tom Green, explained: “I was introduced to St Andrew’s Healthcare by a family member who works for the charity. In common with many Northampton residents I didn’t fully understand the work that the charity does with all kinds of patients suffering mental illness. We became regular users of the Workbridge Garden Centre and Coffee Shop and learned that St Andrew’s are able to support patients to undertake work placements within local businesses.”
Tom worked with our Employment Support team and developed a job description for the new role. Shortly after he was introduced to Louise, who at the time was a patient at St Andrew’s Healthcare.
Following a 12-week internship at the end of last year, Louise has now been discharged from St Andrew’s and is living in the community. She has recently started a new job in administration – a paid role working for Starboard PM.
Louise commented: “I really enjoyed my placement, and it helped me to build my confidence while learning new skills. I am now working for Starboard PM one day a week, and the team are very supportive. I hope to be able to work more hours in the future.”
For Tom, the placement has really opened his eyes to the struggles that people with poor mental health face in the workplace. “Our team had very little knowledge of mental health issues prior to offering this placement. During the course of the 12 weeks we gained a better understanding, and we have found a fantastic person to supplement our team. We are pleased that this experience has helped us to change our view of people with mental illness and in our small way contributed to a vibrant and diverse work force.”
Kate Allen, Employment Support Co-ordinator, added: “I am absolutely delighted for Louise; she has worked exceptionally hard and I know she’s making a really positive contribution to the Starboard PM team.”
Workbridge supports people with mental illness, learning disabilities, autism or brain injuries to reach their full potential. As their confidence grows, the Workbridge Employment Support Service helps people to take their skills to the next level, offering 12-week work placements with a variety of local employers.