NHS England and The Poppy Factory collaborate on employment

NHS staff are being urged to help more ex-Forces patients transform their lives through employment support, following the success of three regional pilot projects in England.

Veterans charity The Poppy Factory has helped more than 100 veterans in the first year of the pilots, with 45 finding work so far.

The NHS funds its employment consultants to deliver employment support for veterans with health conditions in Portsmouth, Plymouth, Cheshire and Wirral.

Alongside those who have moved into paid work, others have been supported to take up opportunities in education, training and volunteering.

Free one-to-one guidance is offered throughout each veteran’s journey towards employment, helping them overcome barriers and make positive life changes.

Regular check-ins show they are building confidence, developing skills and experience and improving their health and wellbeing.

Deirdre Mills, Chief Executive of The Poppy Factory, said: “Connecting with NHS partners has helped us reach many veterans who would not otherwise have found our employment service. We are urging NHS staff to help ex-Forces patients by making a simple referral. In doing so, they will begin a journey that can lead to huge improvements in veterans’ mental health and wellbeing.”

Navy veteran Darren today

Royal Navy veteran Darren, who was referred for employment support by a GP in Portsmouth, said:

Being unemployed affected my confidence. I’d see jobs and think I wasn’t good enough to apply. The minute I met my Employment Consultant, Lisa, that all changed. Lisa gave me wings. She encouraged me to apply for jobs that I was interested in. She helped me prepare, we’d talk through everything, and I knew she was only a phone call away if I needed support.

Pilot projects in Portsmouth and Plymouth launched in April 2021 and are set to run until 2023. A project with Cheshire and Wirral NHS Foundation Trust has also been extended by the NHS for two years after a successful pilot funded by Forces in Mind Trust.

The Poppy Factory can also take referrals from any NHS service across England and Wales. Anyone who is unemployed, served in the Armed Forces for one day or more, and has a physical or mental health condition can register or be referred for free employment support.

To register or to refer a veteran, visit poppyfactory.org/NHSregister