"Employability and how a Trust can help"

About: Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust / Adult mental health (inpatient)

(as the patient),

Biographical and career notes

An uneventful boy-hood and some Academic achievements saw me through tertiary education, which I completed in the early seventies. The occurrence of diagnosable symptoms appeared in what came to be my final year, but my course work merited the award of a BA Honours in Combined Humanities (aegrotat)

I was 21 years old.

The slur cast by the nature of my diagnosis, I felt, ensured that there were no opportunities to sit for any professional qualifications, so my vocation of Librarian remained on hold to this day. Five years passed without Library employment in any capacity, five years punctuated with a break-down, four months’ hospitalisation and continuing treatment for schizophrenia, until Employment resettlement pointed me in the direction of a Library Supplier sweat-shop in Nottingham, where I remained full-time for fifteen years. At no stage did the financial rewards for this engagement creep up above my entitlements as a disabled person!

I have never considered myself to be a drudge, so after being pushed about by ‘thatcherite insurgents’ in the 1990s, I agreed with the firm’s doctor that I had had a run for my money and it was time to abandon ship.

My Liberation was palpable and it is something I can never regret. Creativity had returned after a dormancy of some 21 years. I returned to writing and belatedly, to an interest I had shared with my Father in my teen-age years, Photography.

Progressive thinking from Nottingham Healthcare has ensured my survival and provided occupational fulfilment via continuing care arrangements which have sustained me thus far. For many, schizophrenia is a life-sentence but the redeeming quality of any predicament is that some good can come out of it . I am indebted to the many well-wishers and the encouragement I have received from employees of the Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust, firstly for convincing me I have a present and a future and for now, for investing in that future.

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Response from Jane Danforth, Involvement Team , Involvement & Experience, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

picture of Jane Danforth

Thank you for taking the time to share your story of hope.

The Trust is committed to reducing the stigma people experience through their diagnosis. It is heartening to hear that you recognise our organisation has played a part in your survival.

Your positive outlook in turning your life around will bring hope and inspiration to others facing similar predicaments.

I would like to wish you every success in your future.

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Update posted by Rambuie (the patient)

The us and you in this response places an uncomfortable distance which the responder may or may not have intended, but to me it seems to enforce a client-based connection and detachment which betrays a measure of disinterest in out-comes: If you really would like to wish me every success, then why not play a full part in helping to bring that about?

On this uncertainty hangs a reservation. The trust and its progressive thinking once had a fully participatory approach, and it is the approach of the Skills and Practical Activities Network which enjoys my full gratitude and appreciation for its contribution to my survival. From what I understand, the Trust is as of now busy dismantling what I believe is its flag-ship enterprise, SPAN, and at this juncture it would be entirely appropriate to provide the people who have passed through, or are current members, adequate explanation as to how it is so suddenly out of favour? It feels to me that there is pressure being piled on for disadvantaged people incapacitated by difficulties with mental ill-health to suddenly transmogrify into model fodder for the employment market - to gratify a target dreamed up at Westminster, which in my opinion is set to dissolve a burgeoning number of incurably ill claimants which might make embarrassing reading.

If I might venture an opinion on this, I feel that if some realism had prevailed, it would be more widely recognized that in 36 years, clients' needs have not changed from a need to be meaningfully occupied - which is very different from being thrown onto an employment market which I believe would have us sweep leaves in autumn, snow in winter, blossom in Spring and sweating tar in Summer - rather than cost the Exchequer any money. Yes, the Health of the Nation does cost money, but in my opinion it would cost less if services remained in place to engage people like us appropriately and in accordance with our capacity as citizens.

Response from Julie Grant, Head of Communications, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

You obviously feel very strongly about this issue so I would advise you to speak to a member of staff. Please contact Julie Swann on 0115 966 1088.

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