Fife Employment Access Trust Goes Global

14th November 2018

Fife Employment Access Trust is celebrating double successes. FEAT are a charity that support people with mental health conditions to enter and sustain work and as they are about to prepare for their 25th Birthday in 2019, are gaining a global reputation for excellence.

FEAT’s General Manager, Duncan Mitchell, explains, “We developed a programme called “Employ your Mind” back in 2012 which was a real partnership collaboration with colleagues at NHS Fife and aims to provide a programme specifically for people with significant mental health conditions to support them to better self-manage their conditions, undertake a range of personal development opportunities and begin to realise ambitions for the future – be that paid employment or other meaningful activities such as training/education or volunteering – often aspirations they felt were out of their reach before, due to the issues with their health and in many cases past failures that had completely devastated their confidence and self-belief.

The programme has been hugely successful in Fife, indeed 78% of participants have successfully completed a qualification with FEAT in the past 3 years, and the success caught the eye of WISE Employment in Melbourne, Australia. Following a series of visits from WISE staff to Fife, the programme has now been successfully replicated in Melbourne and after the first year of operation down under, outcomes being achieved are at a very similar level to Fife. To bolster the international partnership and to provide WISE staff with first hand guidance, advice and training, two of FEAT’s Fife team travelled to Melbourne last month all expenses paid and spent 2 weeks coaching and mentoring the Australian team, as well as presenting at conferences within a packed programme.

The visit has been hugely productive and planning is underway for FEAT to support the expansion of the programme throughout Australia, whilst also working closely with WISE’s UK subsidiary to bring Employ your Mind to England.

Duncan adds, “It’s a wonderful testimonial for our work here that it’s now being pioneered on the other side of the world. With funding and finance for our core services always our biggest challenge, the relationship with WISE has a further benefit that they are covering our costs in supporting them to implement the programme, and the income we generate is used to improve our services locally.”

A second celebration is also underway at FEAT as another partnership programme with NHS Fife, the Individual Placement & Support Service (IPS) has reached a landmark milestone just 3 years into its existence.

IPS is an evidence-based model of supported employment that is delivered in countries around the world. In order to be accredited, services have to undertake external assessments every 12-18 months to monitor their fidelity to the model. Last month, the FEAT service reached the accolade of “exemplary” fidelity – the highest level that can be awarded, also making the Fife service the highest ranked IPS in Scotland and up there with the best in the UK and indeed the world. Duncan adds, “If we maintain exemplary status at our next review, we also become a Centre of Excellence, we would be the first in Scotland and that is our aim.”

Evidence and research shows that the higher fidelity of IPS Services to the model, the higher the positive outcomes of moving people into paid employment, and sustaining their employment. In Fife, whilst the service has only been operating for 3 years, we are seeing almost 60% of participants gaining work with the support of the team, which is a staggering success rate when considering the many challenges faced by the participants. Duncan adds, “Employers across Fife also have to be commended for providing paid opportunities to the IPS Service and for welcoming diversity within their workforces.”

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