A new scheme which aims to support over 10,500 people who are in recovery from substance or alcohol misuse, or have mental ill-health, to get into education, training or work has been launched by the Welsh Government.
The programme, the only Wales-wide service of its kind, helps participants develop their confidence by participating in activities and supports them to access training, qualifications and work experience or volunteering.
Participants are supported by peer mentors, who draw on their own experiences to help others. Peer mentors work with the participants on activities to help overcome barriers to education, training or employment. Participants will receive support in areas such as developing interpersonal skills, budgeting, accessing housing, medical care and accessing financial support.
The programme is open to people between 16 and 24 who are not in education, employment or training, and adults aged 25 or over who are long-term unemployed or economically inactive.
The Out of Work Service, which was supported through European funding until August 2022, has been recommissioned through £13m of Welsh Government funding over three years. Contracts have recently been awarded to deliver the Out of Work Service across Wales.
Cyfle Cymru is providing the service in north Wales and is aiming to support over 2,800 people by March 2025. The Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being, Lynne Neagle, met participants and peer mentors from Cyfle Cymru in Wrexham, where they were clearing the grounds at Champions House as part of a volunteering activity.
Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being, Lynne Neagle said:
“It’s really important that anyone who has experienced substance or alcohol misuse, or who have battled with mental ill-health, is afforded the same opportunity as everyone else to study for qualifications, start training or begin a new job, which is often the springboard that helps people rebuild their lives.
“It was great to meet the participants, peer mentors and staff in Wrexham, who shared some very inspirational stories with me.
“I’m really pleased, through the Out of Work service, the Welsh Government will be able to support this programme. I wish everyone taking part in this excellent programme all the best in their future endeavours.”
The new scheme supports the aims of the Welsh Government’s Plan for Employability and Skills. Launched in 2022, the plan sets out how the Welsh Government will support people with a long-term health condition into or back into work, by preventing people falling out of employment through health prevention, early intervention, and healthy workplaces.
Minister for Economy, Vaughan Gething, added:
“Improving the well-being of everyone in Wales is the mission which drives the Welsh Government’s approach to the economy. As part of our Plan for Employability and Skills, we’ve committed to supporting those furthest away from the labour market into work.
“Employment can be a lifeline for people recovering from substance misuse or mental health issues. By removing the barriers to employment, this project will support people across Wales to enter and stay in the jobs market – thereby creating the stronger, fairer, greener and healthier Wales we all want to see.”
Lisa Thompson, Cyfle Cymru project manager, said:
“The programme would provide new opportunities and new hope for people often excluded by society.
“Our experience and expertise in effective peer mentoring means we can deliver and empower change in the lives of people affected by substance misuse and adverse mental health.
“Cyfle Cymru will help tackle poverty, ensure equal opportunity for all, raise skills, get more people into work, and improve the lives of people and our communities.”