Andy Kempster, Policy and Campaigns Officer, talks about the impact of our We've Got Work To Do report and why we need to keep the pressure up.
In December we launched our We’ve got work to do report, which calls on the next Government to take people with mental health problems out of current back-to-work schemes, such as the Work Programme. These schemes simply aren’t working. We want people with mental health problems to be offered a new programme focusing on person-centred, specialist support that understands them and the challenges they face.
When we launched the report we asked many of you to email your MP about it and share it on social media. Thousands of you did and we managed to reach over 550 MPs – an incredible amount. Some of our campaigners bravely spoke out on the radio, TV and to newspapers about their difficult experience of the current mainstream support. This meant our report was seen across the country. So firstly, thank you to everyone who helped us with this. We put a lot of hard work into reports like these, so to see them reach so many people thanks to you, makes us really grateful.
The launch of the report was only the start of our campaign on this issue. The real work started in January, straight after the Christmas break. Since then we have been knocking on doors, shouting about the report and trying to make sure our recommendations for better, more understanding back-to-work support are taken on-board. To do this we have:
- Met with 15 MPs, Ministers and Shadow Ministers
- Presented our recommendations to over 70 staff from the Department for Work and Pensions who work in this area
- Met with leading think tanks and other not for profit organisations gaining their support
- Supported two innovative back-to-work programme pilots in London
- Spoke about the effects of sanctions on people with mental health problems in Parliament
- Worked with civil servants on a new employment support initiative
In two months, it’s difficult to make huge changes, but with your help we have begun to make an impact. People are now talking about this issue, asking the right questions and looking for the solutions.
So will it actually make any difference?
It’s a long slog. Someone once described improving back-to-work support to me as like trying to turn round a big tanker in the ocean. It takes time. What we have to do right now is keep the pressure up, so that when the next Government decides what is next for back-to-work support (and benefits in general), we’re heading in the right direction.
Back-to-work support isn’t the only problem, what about everything else?
To help explain, we recently updated our benefit pages so you can see exactly what we’re up to. As you will see, we are campaigning on a variety of issues that we know are very important to many of you including sanctions, PIP and the WCA.
However, on all these issues it’s important we know exactly what is going on, and how they are affecting you. For this reason, over the next year we are going to need your help. We are currently planning what this will look like, but we may ask to meet with you, or ask you to fill out surveys or join us for a roundtable. Either way, watch this space.