Welfare reform and employment
Support for people with mental health problems who want to return to work is vital. As part of our broader campaigning on benefits and welfare reform we want to see individuals treated with understanding and respect.
The Work Programme
We understand and share the concerns many have about the Work Programme.
We think back-to-work support for anybody with mental health problems should be agreed collaboratively. A system designed around the assumption that people will only engage under duress is unlikely to promote a positive attitude among those involved.
We are concerned that people with mental health problems may be asked to undertake activities that are unsuitable for them due to flaws in the Work Capability Assessment and a lack of expertise among the advisors setting these activities.
We have consistently lobbied Government on these points.
We see our involvement in discussions with policy makers on benefit and welfare reform as crucial. As an organisation we are committed to making sure the voice of people with mental health problems is heard at the highest level. We believe we have had a positive impact by being at the table, although there is still much to be done.
Mind, the national charity, does not have, has never had and will never have any coerced volunteer placements.
As a charity, we depend upon volunteers to help us continue our work. Mind has a volunteering policy that states that volunteer roles should never be used in place of paid roles. Volunteers are usually recruited on a time limited basis to work on specific projects.
Local Minds are independent charities, so we do not have immediate access to information about their staff and volunteers. We have written to all local Minds to ask that, if they are involved in any Workfare schemes, they withdraw from them immediately. At present, we have not been notified of any local Minds involved in such schemes.
We have told managers in our charity shops to check the status of their volunteers and end any placements that are not in line with our position.
We are part of a consortium of charities called Disability Works that was set up to provide specialist support for disabled individuals. One of the potential funders for this work is the Work Programme. We haven’t entered into any contracts and have made no profits from the scheme.
We will continue to judge potential contracts on a case by case basis. The issues of conditionality and sanctions are vital elements of these judgements. However, we also believe that local Minds can play a beneficial role in the process by ensuring that people are being given support that is appropriate and beneficial for their mental health and that they are not sanctioned where their mental health is the cause of them struggling to take part.
It in no way compromises our freedom to campaign in this area and we will continue to fight for an improved system. We’re opposed to people with mental health problems being pressured into taking on work placements before they are well enough to do so and will continue to campaign on this.
Other forms of employment support
There are more than 160 local Minds, all of which are independent charities that follow rigorous quality standards set by national Mind.
Many local Minds are doing fantastic work around employment already. As well as helping people develop their skills, through help with CVs, mock interviews and in disclosing a mental health problem many are also providing longer term support, such as mentoring and coaching.
Through advocates and welfare advice, local Minds are also helping ensure individuals aren't sanctioned when their health makes it impossible to work.
We know that many people with mental health problems do want to work but have found this difficult because of the approach of employers and wider issues of stigma and discrimination.