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 share the concerns many people have about the Work Programme and other back-to-work support.
We have serious concerns about the use of conditionality and sanctions in the benefits system and how this impacts on people with mental health problems. We think back-to-work support should be agreed collaboratively, taking account of individual circumstances and needs. A system designed around the assumption that people will only engage if they are subject to sanctions is unlikely to lead to positive outcomes.
We are also 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 consistently raise these concerns with Government and policy makers. We want to see a benefits system that treats people with mental health problems with support and respect, and works with them to overcome the barriers they face rather than simply pushing them towards work at all costs.
Mind 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.
Mind operates a retail network of 130 charity shops in England and Wales. Our shops do not accept volunteers from coerced volunteer schemes. We ask volunteers at interview to confirm that they are truly volunteers and we will not accept placements that are part of such schemes.
We have an agreement with Job Centre Plus and provide volunteer placements in our shops to people looking for work experience. These are entirely voluntary. A number of these volunteers have gone on to secure paid positions with us.
Services in local areas
Some local Minds deliver employment support, 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.