Zoe Keeton: The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Service changed my life

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Published on: 27th November 2020

When asked about her experiences of the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Service, Zoe Keeton said:

"Since utilising the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Service, I have been successful in achieving three roles in post within the Trust. I had not been employed in the community for two years and I really suffered with social anxiety. I had been working from home for some time and due to mental ill health and did not know where to begin with returning to work in the community.

"The Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) referred me to the IPS Team and I worked with my Employment Advisor Abbie to build my confidence, experience, and interview skills. Together, we identified past work experience skills that were transferrable to my preferred new job roles.

"Abbie would sit with me and explain anything I was not sure of and guide me with simple explanations to help settle my anxieties. Before an interview, she would meet with me and encourage me not to underestimate myself. I was advised that if I did not know an answer at the time of being asked a question at interview, then to simply ask to come back to that question later. 

"Abbie helped me to rationalise the job applications and interview process rather than worry. At one interview, she even sat beside me to help reduce my anxieties, which was a great help.

"With the support and assistance from the IPS Team, I achieved a clinical apprenticeship, which enabled me to gain qualifications in maths and English as well as a level 3 diploma under an advanced apprenticeship.

"I worked in male acute inpatient services as a Health Care Assistant (HCA) at this time. After gaining insight and experience within this role, I felt I was ready to develop my career further.

"I contacted the IPS Team once again to ask for assistance with preparing for another interview. I had applied for a position as an Occupational Therapy Assistant as I felt that this was a natural progression for me. I was successful and gained this promotion just nine months into my training. 

"For a short time during my service I was homeless and I had become a single mum again. Abbie could see I was struggling with my long shift patterns and advised me on my reasonable adjustments rights with work. The team always asked if I needed any further advice about financial support such as benefits, and really cared about my wellbeing. We worked to build a rapport with my manager and adjusted my working hours to adapt to my needs.

"Now I have joined the IPS Team as an Employment Advisor which is something I could never have dreamed of. If it was not for the IPS Team, I would not have the training, qualifications and work experience that I have today and a career that I love. The team have not just changed my life but they have also given me a sense of identity and purpose, which in turn has improved my mental health. In addition, I now get the chance to give back to the service and contribute towards positively changing the lives of others during their recovery journeys. I can't recommend the IPS Service enough."

To find out more about our Individual Placement Support (IPS) Service, visit: www.lpft.nhs.uk/thinking-about-work

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