New work and health centre launched

A new work and health hub designed and funded by Blackpool Council has officially opened its doors.

The HealthWorks brings together a range of employment, health and lifestyle advice for local residents to help them gain and sustain jobs, as well as improve their overall health and wellbeing.

Located in the heart of Blackpool town centre HealthWorks is now home to support services including employment and self-employment advice, careers advice, online job search, work placements, benefits checks, debt and money advice, talking therapy and access to health coaches.

£800,000 has been invested to modernise vacant council office space at Clifton Street, the former home of the Tourist Information Centre and other back-office teams.

Cllr Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader, Responsible for Economic Growth and Employment, said: “Evidence shows that that work is good for your health, but worklessness has the opposite effect. This important initiative redoubles our efforts to provide quality employment and health advice to residents who need our help, delivered from a fantastic new facility.

“7 in 10 of Blackpool’s working age benefit claimants have some form of limiting physical or mental health condition. We cannot ignore this challenge if we are to increase our
overall employment rate. There are a wide range of partners and employers who are helping the council to achieve this goal.”

HealthWorks includes a £2m Mental Health and Employment Trailblazer, one of only three in the country, trialling the impact of combining specialist employment advice with talking therapies for out of work residents with unmet mental health needs such as depression and anxiety. The trial is co-delivered with Blackpool Teaching Hospitals’ Supporting Minds service.

Cllr Graham Cain, Cabinet Secretary, Responsible for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Some residents living in Blackpool face challenges which can make it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Aimee (L) and Laura (R) from Positive Steps and the Healthy Futures teams
Aimee (L) and Laura (R) from Positive Steps and the Healthy Futures teams

“Many people do want to make a change and improve their health - eat healthier, do more exercise, drink less, stop smoking or feel less isolated but they need motivation and advice on how to go about making ‘doable’ lifestyle changes.

“That’s where HealthWorks and the Healthy Lifestyle team come in, to empower people to take simple manageable steps to better health.”

The following programmes are currently delivered at HealthWorks: -

Positive Steps into Work – this team currently delivers the government’s Work Programme assisting long term unemployed into sustainable jobs. The programme has been running for 6 years now and will cease in 2019. Positive Steps was set up in 2007 and is celebrating its 10th year of delivering support to out of work residents. Expert employment advisors offer personalised approach for each customer, covering a wide range of issues and barriers to work.

Healthy Futures – a highly successful employment initiative that targets specific areas and/or groups such as former substance misusers (drug and alcohol).

Chance2shine is a facilitated 4 week work placement programme that can extend to 8 weeks. Around 50% of participants, some 200 per year, move into paid employment as a result of participation in this programme. Placements are offered in the public, private and third sectors. Chance2Shine has been awarded the Fair Train Gold Award for the quality of the its programme.

Mental Health & Employment Trailblazer – Blackpool is one of three areas in the country to trial the impact of more integrated employment advice alongside talking
therapies for unemployed residents with moderate behavioural conditions such as anxiety and depression. The project is co-delivered with Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Trust, and is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the European Social Fund.

Healthy Lifestyles – offers health coaching to Blackpool’s residents seeking a lifestyle change whether that’s around diet and nutrition, exercise, smoking or drinking cessation, with a buddy to help people access services.

Local Specialist Obesity Service (LSOS) is a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) comprising dietetics, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, psychology and endocrinology.
Multi-disciplinary assessment of clients referred to The HealthWorks will ensure they are matched to a programme that meets their individual circumstances and needs. The LSOS service will manage those with the greatest healthcare needs. Many of the clients will have complex conditions including diabetes, coronary heart disease, endocrinological disorders and musculo-skeletal conditions which compound the impact of their weight. Delivered by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation
Trust on behalf of Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

A range of other Council and partner services are offered including adult basic skills, careers advice, debt and benefits advice, as well as referral to specialist agencies for housing and health advice.