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Work and Pensions Secretary visits GP surgery in Halesowen to see success of work programme

The Work and Pensions Secretary has hailed a region-wide employment scheme for those with health conditions as he visited a GP surgery in the Black Country.

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Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride MP (centre) is pictured with Dr Mohit Mandiratta (left of SoS), West Midlands Mayor Andy Street (far left) and staff at Feldon Lane Surgery in Halesowen

Mel Stride took to Feldon Lane Surgery, in Halesowen, where he met people being supported by the Government-backed Thrive into Work scheme and doctors.

And the Central Devon MP was full of praise for the programme, which has helped more than 1,000 people with health conditions move into, or stay in, work.

Mr Stride said: "Following the publication of the Health and Disability White Paper last week, it was fantastic to see first-hand the exact kind of programme we’ll be rolling out across the country through Universal Support.

"Over a thousand people in the West Midlands have already been helped by this life-changing support and I was delighted to meet the people who are delivering and benefitting from the service.

"Thrive to Work is a shining example of the transformative impact employment can have, helping many people overcome barriers to work, and live the independent and fulfilling lives they deserve."

The service is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and provides one-to-one employment and healthcare support to anyone who needs help to find or remain in work due to their physical or mental health.

The Work and Pensions Secretary was joined by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street with the pair seeing first-hand how people benefitted from the service – by visiting the GP surgery and spending time at the Birmingham South West Jobcentre and West Midlands Combined Authority head office.

Mr Street said: "It’s wonderful to have the chance to welcome the Secretary of State to the West Midlands to showcase the fantastic support being provided by Thrive into Work.

"Thrive into Work offers a unique and personal approach to employment support, with one-to-one advice that helps people living with health conditions find satisfying and suitable work, and then continues to support them in the workplace.

"We know that being in regular work can have positive effects on an individual’s health, so this is a very valuable service that is improving the lives of people here in our region."

Employment specialists work with health teams and carers to support people into "meaningful and sustainable employment". It includes help with CVs and job searches, running awareness sessions for employers and liaising with the Jobcentre on welfare benefits.

Thrive into Work is known as an example of "Individual Placement and Support in Primary Care (IPSPC)" – something which is being piloted in the West Midlands and South Yorkshire. It is a pioneer model for Universal Support, a supported employment programme announced as part of last week’s Spring Budget.

Universal Support will support up to 50,000 disabled people, people with health conditions and people with additional barriers to employment, into sustained work using the proven place and train model, Government chiefs say.

Eligible people will be able to opt into Universal Support to receive up to 12 months of support – helping them initially to move quickly into suitable work and followed with wraparound support to help them to sustain that employment for the longer-term.

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