A hospital trust in the North East of England is to be the first in the country to employ people with lived experience of homelessness as part of a pilot project.
Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) has recruited two healthcare support workers under a pilot programme which aims to understand the barriers people experience when looking for jobs.
“They had the ability, they just hadn’t been given the opportunity and we’ve been able to provide that”
Of the seven NHS trusts taking part in the project, CNTW has been the first to complete the recruitment process, and two previously homeless people will be working for a homeless team and a community treatment team within the trust.
The two new members of staff were trained by Groundswell, a charity that aims to end homelessness.
Senior nurse international recruitment and relocation support at the trust, Anne-Marie Lamb, said the initiative had shown that everyone has an opportunity.
“It normalises people with lived experience and shows that just because you have been homeless doesn’t mean you can’t move forward,” she said.
Senior professional social worker, Jan Rutherford, who has been involved in the project, said: “The experience has brought me to tears.
“It’s all down to the successful individuals. They had the ability, they just hadn’t been given the opportunity and we’ve been able to provide that.”
She added: “They’re both really passionate and looking forward to forging their careers.
“To have healthcare support workers with lived experience and real empathy will bring such value to the teams.”
Led by NHS England and Improvement, the Access to Employment pilot programme gives organisations the chance to reflect on current employment practices for people with lived experience and reduce barriers to employment.
The project is being evaluated throughout to measure its success.