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Jobcentre collaborative working improves outcomes in the community

JP Marks, director general of work and health services at the Department for Work and Pensions, argues the work of jobcentre work coaches overlaps with social workers, making the point that collaborative working is improving outcomes in the community.

At the core of being a Jobcentre work coach is a conversation. An opportunity to resolve someone’s housing issues, support them to get help with their health, encourage them to take up training or find work.

Our conversations are not dissimilar to those a social worker might have – and the people we work with are often the same too.

And much like you, empathy is at the heart of what we do and I want our work coaches to feel empowered to do the right thing.

As their title suggests, work coaches are experts at supporting people to find employment.

READ MORE: Royal Borough of Greenwich: Back to work

But they also know that some things are more important than a job; personal safety, physical and mental health, and caring for family and children.

So that’s where we start. Trying to make sure people have stability in their lives so they can feel confident to find a job and enjoy the benefits it brings.

But it can be incredibly complicated which is why we also have specialist staff to support particularly vulnerable people, including young people who are caught up in crime or gang activity.

One such colleague is Esther who is based in South London. She was supporting a 21-year-old who was estranged from his family and sleeping  in his car, the park and on friends’ sofas, fighting to get away from a life of crime.

Esther helped him get a place at a hostel, located to help him break contact with former gang associates, and get mental health treatment. Since then he has done some work but because he is out of work again Esther continues to help him build his life back up.


Conversations work coaches will have are often not dissimilar to those a social worker might have – and the people they work with are often the same too. The goal is giving people stability in their lives so they can feel confident to find a job.

Doing a similar job in Birmingham is Barry. He provided support to a young man who was the victim of gang-related violence that had left him too frightened to leave the house.

Working alongside the Youth Offending Service at Birmingham Children’s Trust, Barry was able to gain a full understanding of the family’s circumstances and they were able to work together to help improve the situation.

Barry helped the young man apply for a job outside the Birmingham area so he could escape his constant fear of being attacked by the local gang and to help him prepare for the interview we arranged mock sessions. Successfully landing the job, this young man is settling into his safe, new world.

These are just two of the hundreds of success stories we know about. A vocation like Esther’s and Barry’s is aligned with Social Services and across the country we are joining up the story of people’s lives by working more closely with you, your teams and your partners.

READ MORE: £12m more for mental health back-to-work ‘trailblazer’ pilots

And as more people move on to Universal Credit, those who we support in the job centre have increasingly complex needs. The success of record employment means those we still see regularly are the hardest to help and the long-term unemployed.

They are more likely to need support with housing, debt, domestic abuse, homelessness and nearly half of people claiming for the first time declare some form of health condition – which is why we now increasingly focus on Work & Health as our core purpose in delivery.

To prepare our colleagues to handle these needs we are investing more than ever in team training to make sure we are equipped to provide the support that people need, from domestic abuse specialists and mental health leaders to homelessness specialists and disability employment advisors.

But we cannot be all things to all people. That’s why we are grateful to those who work with us, so together we can strive to make sure the safety net is working for everyone who needs it.


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