Ricky Newton and Diane Heaven are the co-founders of Working for Health.
They had been working in the mental health and vocational rehabilitation field for decades: in the voluntary sector, the NHS, employment services and in central government. And after all this time the situation wasn’t changing for the people they were working with: people with mental health conditions were still not getting the specialist support to help them reach their potential. They knew that more could be and should be done.
In 2015, Diane and Ricky took a leap of faith and left their jobs to set up Working for Health CIC. The entire purpose of the organisation was to bridge the gap between mental health services and employment services and provide a dedicated intervention to meet a person’s job search and employment needs while at the same time supporting their mental wellbeing.
In 2019 we moved from our start up premises at the University of Hull to our very own premises at Cottingham railway station. This building, which dates back to 1864, hadn’t been used since the 1980’s and need a lot of work. But it was amazing to see new life being breathed into the old building. We were shortlisted for the National Railway Heritage Awards for the work that was done.
As with everyone, Covid brought it challenges. But we didn’t give in, we didn’t furlough staff, we didn’t withdraw our services. Instead, we worked harder, more creatively and even grew our business. By April, everything that we had previously provided in person was available online, created newsletter and social networking platforms to keep everyone connected and supported at this difficult time. Recognition for this came from the 2020 Business Awards where we won the ‘Business in the face of Adversity’ category.
Working for Health has helped hundreds of people with not only work and training issues, but with all the things that stop people from achieving: the person’s mental health issues, housing, benefits, relationships… the list is endless. Working for Health does this by collaborating with partners where needed and by having the dedication and commitment to help the person to plan, stay on track and to achieve their goals.
We now have 9 members of staff, interns and secondees plus some wonderful volunteers covering Hull, East Riding and the Selby District. Most of our work is still supporting people with mental health conditions who are out of work, although we provide one service for disabled young adults using the same models of support, and work with employees and employers to improve workplace mental health and wellbeing.
But there is always more to do, and we will keep on relentlessly striving for more, until the perfect day arrives where mental health is no longer a barrier to employment and we are not needed any more.
Our story is ever evolving. We’d love for you to be a part of it!