More Cantabrians with health conditions or disabilities, who are struggling to find or hold down a job, will get help finding work with an expansion of a Canterbury trial.
Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni today announced the expansion of Step Up, a programme which was already helping 100 people find and sustain work with various support networks.
The trial is a partnership between the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), Canterbury District Health Board and Pegasus Health. It started in March 2017.
The trial has helped 100 people who have a health condition, injury or disability, and who receive Jobseeker Support benefit, to start employment or volunteer work or become more connected to society, Ms Sepuloni said.
She was pleased to announce funding for 200 more people to access to the programme in Canterbury over the next 12 months, she said.
Improvements to the programme will also include extending the eligibility criteria to Canterbury clients who receive a main benefit, and providing intensive support for clients for an extra four weeks. The programme will now be 16 to 20 weeks.
"The majority of people (75 per cent) on the Step Up programme are living with mental health conditions and have struggled to find or stay in work," Ms Sepuloni said. "Many find it hard to get a job, keep a job or start looking for one because they have ongoing health issues, little support or they’ve been discriminated against.
"This Government is committed to helping people gain meaningful and sustainable work and will continue to support programmes like Step Up that address the underlying health issues that are holding people back from finding and staying in work."
Ministry of Social Development Canterbury Regional Director Shane Carter said even after people are placed in jobs, the organisation would continue to support people who need it so that they do well and have sustainable work.
In the programme, MSD Case Managers and Health Navigators meet regularly with clients to determine health barriers and offer support and encouragement, including training, income support or employment support, Mr Carter said.
Pegasus Health’s Melissa McCreanor said the programme was a success because it allowed people to stop and think about their health, wellbeing and what may be preventing them from joining the workforce.