Employing people who have experienced mental illness, or any other disabilities for that matter, can appear daunting for any employer.
However, Stepping Stones has been recruiting people with lived experience of mental health problems for many years.
It would be safe to say that many staff recruited over the years have underlying health conditions they self-manage on a day-to-day basis.
Recently, we recruited three Peer Support Workers, which increased our complement to four in total.
I am the manager responsible for recruitment and recognise it is never easy to get the right people in to the job.
Interviewing, shortlisting and the like is very time consuming and you need to get it right or you could end up at an employment tribunal. Heaven forbid!
However, our value driven organisation tries to see the person – not the label – first. We look for people who are passionate about people.
We emphasise the need for our staff to be flexible and adaptable as workers and will meet the needs of the people who use our services.
We tend to attract a certain type of person to the organisation.
Those who believe everyone has something to offer.
Those who believe the best a person has is usually hidden away – ready to be drawn out.
Those who understand what it is like on the other side and can use their experience for the greater good; after all, sharing is caring!
That’s a really powerful mix when you get all of those elements together.
But, (yes, there is always a but) – sometimes it may take a while to get there. They say patience is a virtue, but I prefer to say, “Persistence beats Resistance”. Hurrah!
And it works both ways.
When you recruit your staff you need to adopt the same flexible approach to them as you do to the people they support.
They are your resource, a resource with beliefs, values and a beating heart!
Treasure them, support them, and be kind to them. Even when you, or they, are not at their best.
If you develop those habits, you will reap the rewards.
It means a lot to individuals who have gained another chance.
One of our peers noted: “Working again has boosted my self -confidence; I am enjoying being part of a team.”
Benefits of Work
Work has many benefits. Social interaction and a sense of purpose are high on the list.
Good pay helps. Work has proven to be to be a route out of poverty for many.
In this day and age where there are staff shortages we need to look to our communities for solutions.
Sometimes the answers are staring you right in the face.
I think we all have a role to play in this.