As a pioneering provider of specialist education, residential care and support services across the North West, the Together Trust prides itself on the dedication and expertise of its 800-plus strong workforce. With daily working challenges for its staff, the charity has placed its trust in the Able Futures mental health support service to ensure its employees can ably and enthusiastically deliver their life changing work.
The Together Trust, now celebrating its 150th year, supports more than 2,700 vulnerable young people and adults with a range of physical and learning disabilities; emotional, behavioural or social difficulties. It provides education, residential services, fostering, family support and community services, putting the people it supports at the heart of everything it does.
Working with the Together Trust since mid-2019, Able Futures gives colleagues an easily accessible route for support, while also empowering the charity’s managers and mental health first aiders with a practical solution to offer colleagues in need.
Able Futures’ mental health professionals help working people cope with life while managing a mental health condition. The service is free and confidential and offers nine months’ mental health support from a qualified vocational rehabilitation consultant.
“Our staff are fundamental in providing quality services to the people we support and so need the resilience and mental capacity to cope with and flourish in their working days.” Penny Robinson, Head of HR, Together Trust
“Clearly, having staff take time off, or even just not being at their best while here at work, has a huge operational impact," explains the Trust’s Head of HR, Penny Robinson.
“Having empathy with the people we support is vitally important and so we attract, and encourage, people to join us who have current or past lived experiences. Everyone faces stresses and strains at work and home but in our industry, perhaps more so than others, we have a committed workforce facing heightened work pressures. Mental health issues account for a high percentage of absence.”
The HR and learning and development teams at the Together Trust took direct action to tackle the problem: training more than 70 mental health first aiders; giving mental health awareness training to managers; and launching a wellbeing strategy and employee assistance programme, of which Able Futures is integral.
“In our industry, perhaps more so than others, we have a committed workforce facing heightened work pressures. Mental health issues account for a high percentage of absence.” Penny Robinson, Head of HR, Together Trust
Jake O'Mara, Business Account Manager for Able Futures, works with employers to help promote the service within their organisations. The Access to Work Mental Health Support Service delivered by Able Futures is fully funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and is completely free to employers and individuals.
“The support from Able Futures has been phenomenal,” continues Penny, who is based at the Together Trust Centre in Cheadle. “They have visited 10 separate sites to speak to our leadership teams and they are passionate, compelling, and clearly very proud of the work Able Futures does. They have also helped me shape the Able Futures offer to staff, focusing on its complete confidentiality and longevity of support, and provides marketing collateral to help publicise the service.
“I’m an Able Futures advocate! I tell everyone I know about it: friends, parents of the children we support, and colleagues of course. Anyone in work can get fast, free mental health support and everyone who has heard about Able Futures has seen it as a positive thing.” Penny Robinson, Head of HR, Together Trust