RED January – Colin Johnstone’s Exceptional Approach


RED January (run every day) encourages people to be active every day during January. This can include running, walking, gym, cycling, yoga ect ect.
What a manic month it has been. It started with a full marathon on New Year’s Day, and continuing at frenetic pace throughout, completing a further 3x marathons, 1x half marathon & 2x 10mile races. I also ran a record high number of monthly miles, passing 500 miles with my final run of the month. That’s an average of over 16miles run each day!
It’s always a genuine honour to run for Leeds Mind and if I can raise funds at the same time, that is fantastic.
January might be over but that doesn’t mean I rest. Marathons come thick & fast. April sees me run on the biggest stage of all at London Marathon. I’ll be proudly running in the Leeds Mind vest, and raising vital funds along the way. There’s also a little matter of completing my 100th marathon. (I’m on 93 at the moment).
For a long time, I’ve noticed the link between being active and general wellbeing. For me personally it’s absolutely vital. I’d urge everybody to sign up to next years REDJanuary and do it for Leeds Mind. That doesn’t mean you have to run 500 miles. 😆
Just make a commitment to do something active every day and I guarantee it will have benefits on all levels. In many ways, I’m disappointed the month has ended but I’ll be back next year to do it all again.
Who’s with me? 🙂


Blog written by WPL Employment Support service user – Colin Johnston encouraged & supported by WPL Employment Support Specialist Natalie Alden


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Filed under Client Stories, Confidence, Events & Reviews, Inspirational, Mental Health & Employment, Physical exercise, WorkPlace Leeds NEWS

Client case study – “Jane”

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At the point of referral, Jane had not worked for more than 10 years whilst raising her daughter. She has some beauty therapy skills which she has used within her family and friends.
Contributing factors included very low self-esteem, constantly thinking she was not good enough to be in paid work. Difficulties with partner and family and no routine to her life. Jane did not feel confident in group situations or meeting new people. She had little IT skills and did not know where to start in the search for work as felt she had no skills to offer an employer. Jane has many skills from raising her daughter but did not see these as being transferable into the workplace.
As an Employment Specialist I arranged for Jane to attend our IT classes at WorkPlace Leeds. I brought her to meet the IT Tutor and she slowly built her confidence by attending weekly. Her skills soon improved as did her confidence. We met fortnightly and discussed her goals and made an action plan. We talked about volunteering as a future goal, but this seemed a long way away for Jane. The intention in the long run was to gain paid work.
In my sessions with the client, we focussed on how to improve her communication skills and self- belief. The client was signposted to our internal employment support courses including Managing Stress and Confidence for Work. Jane blossomed over the next six months and slowly became comfortable in herself. Her mood was still up and down but she has grown to accept this is part of her bipolar health condition.
I encouraged Jane to apply to volunteer at WPL in the administrative role and she was successful in her application. This led to her applying for a role in Leeds Courts as a volunteer witness supporter. I coached Jane for the interview, and we met on several occasions before this to calm her nerves and improve her skills. Jane was successful at interview for the Court role and has attended induction and shadowed other employees.
Jane’s self-belief has improved. She can now see there is a future of work and that she can live and be successful despite her diagnosis.
She understands that life will sometimes bring challenging times but now has coping strategies to deal with some of these.
Jane now has two voluntary roles where she can further improve her skills. Jane now believes that she can eventually sustain paid work, and this is her future goal. Meanwhile she is enjoying her volunteering with two supportive employers. She is thriving and sees a positive future. Most recently – Jane has passed her IT course.
Jane has said she could not have passed this without the support of WPL. She has enjoyed the one to one support and guidance.
Jane has had ups and downs in her mental health but has managed any episode in a more positive way. She has the belief that she can now get through difficult times and her general wellbeing is good. She is attending the gym again and has given up smoking.
Initially lack of confidence in her abilities made it hard to attend group work. On one occasion Jane arrived at the door of WPL to come to a workshop but felt unable to come through the door.
I supported Jane the next time by meeting her earlier on and her attending one of my workshops so she knew I could be there to support her if necessary. This has led to Jane helping others within group work if they were feeling anxious.
Paid work within the Courts is a goal. Finishing another module within IT and continuing with volunteering.
Blog written by WPL Employment Specialist Kay Jackson

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Filed under Client Involvment, Client Stories, Confidence, Inspirational, Job search, Mental Health & Employment, Positive Pathways, Uncategorized, Volunteering, WorkPlace Leeds NEWS

The Art of Recovery



My client has developed an interesting technique to channel her motivation to recover. She can find it difficult to communicate her feelings and also to complete the home tasks as her confidence is very low and enthusiasm can be limited. To overcome that she has rediscovered her talents of illustration and chosen to express her thoughts, opinions and goals around recovery into beautiful, inspiring and interesting pieces of art. When my client brings out a piece of art, her face transforms and her words start to pour out and I am able to tune into the rediscovered joy to cultivate this hopeful attitude into progress towards a return to work. As a worker, finding out what makes an individual ‘tick’, what their ‘spark’ is lit by, can be the key to new beginnings for clients and I feel this has been a huge step in moving my client forward. My client also made me a beautiful card one day, passing her ‘hope’ onto me as she felt I had not been quite myself during a previous appointment. That was hugely motivational and rewarding for me, as a worker. It was a clear indication that I’ve successfully passed on belief in one of the key Leeds Mind values onto her, that of hope. My advice to anyone experiencing symptoms of depression would be to remember what once brought you joy, relief or calm and set small, achievable targets to rediscover that in new ways which may be the missing link towards feeling better.

Blog written by Leigh Staunton – WPL Job Retention Specialist




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Filed under Being Well at Work, Client Involvment, Client Stories, Employment Peer Support, Inspirational, Job Retention, Mental Health & Employment, Positive Pathways, Uncategorized, WorkPlace Leeds NEWS, Workplace Wellbeing

The Power of Seasonal Work


I have worked in training and employment for over 7 years and during that time I have come to realise that seasonal employment can be underestimated when people are looking for work.
Seasonal work is work that does not continue year-round but usually recurs around the same time each year; they are temporary and short-term but you can use these to your advantage.
Traditional holiday seasons generate temporary work. For example, a farm that I pass grows pumpkins for customers to pick, but this generates extra work as there is a café and farm shop on site. At peak times extra staff are needed to serve in the café and shop and to monitor the car parks; this means that there is an opportunity for temporary work.

Benefits of seasonal work:
• Paid employment that can provide higher rates of pay because the demand for staff is high
• Organising seasonal work means you could go from one seasonal job to the next providing variety and interest whilst you work
• Can become permanent employment
• Opportunities to develop new skills and social and professional networks
• Great reference opportunity
• Can provide regular employment if you demonstrate a strong work ethic

Types of seasonal work:
• Gardening, landscaping and horticulture
• Summer camps, holiday parks and campsites, outdoor adventure and water sports and theme parks
• Hospitality, hotels, bars and restaurants
• Retail
• Spar and beauty
• Fruit and vegetable picking
• Electoral services
• Delivery driving and logistics
• Mail and parcel sorting
• Warehousing, picking and packing
• Leafletting and distribution
• Manufacturing and production
• Heritage roles for National Trust and private stately homes

Useful links:

Blog written by Patricia Cranswick – WPL Employment Specialist

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Filed under Employment Support, Inspirational, Job search, Mental Health & Employment, Uncategorized, WorkPlace Leeds NEWS, Workplace Wellbeing


This blog was written by Andrew, who is a client of our Private Job Retention Service, about his experiences of managing his mental health and holding down a job at NHS Digital.

I thought long and hard about whether to write this blog. Metaphorically it feels like ripping off a very large plaster. On the one hand there is the feeling of shame about having a mental health condition, but then also a need to be able to share my thoughts and feelings. On a day-to-day basis I feel there is an internal battle as to whether to put on a brave face and act ‘normal’ or to be more honest and accepting of myself by talking openly about my experiences in the workplace as I am doing so now in this blog.

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In the worst of times I’ve been hospitalised. Safe to say it is Not Fun. You feel you’ve hit rock bottom. You wonder to yourself how it has come to this? Will I ever get out? Am I a failure? The questions are endless. The days have a regimented monotony and the outside world seems a long way away. Everywhere there seems to be an air of sadness and defeat. Days seem to go on for ever.

After my discharge I started the long recovery in the more convivial surroundings of a day hospital. Amongst the counselling sessions there was cookery, music, art and walks. We were all a fragile bunch, but we helped each other out the best we could. Things do get better with time, but I’m of the opinion you are never “cured”. Since then I’ve been back at work. I’ve had some good spells, but also some bad ones too.

Over the last two years I’ve made use of the Workplace Leeds Job Retention service. I was allocated a caseworker who offers impartial and non-judgemental advice. I also make use of the excellent Mental Health First Aiders within NHS Digital. With what has been a tumultuous time with Org2, getting married and other events I decided to make use of the Employee Assistance Programme. I must admit I have been wary of the usefulness of this, but my sessions have made a real difference. It gave me a good environment to talk through my anxieties and give me new coping strategies.

The main thing I’ve found to help ease my day-to-day anxiety is to talk to people. Over the last few months I’ve made some great new connections at work and the conversations have been great. You find out you are not alone, and many people have similar experiences that they can share. I’m also very lucky that my wife is very sympathetic and understands my ups and downs. With therapy and various mindfulness techniques I’m learning more to focus on the positives and look to the future.

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Filed under Client Stories, Inspirational, Job Retention, Mental Health & Employment, Workplace Wellbeing

Launch of New IPS Service @ Work Place Leeds!

IPS team
According to IPS statistics 70-90% of people with mental health issues would like to work, but only 37% are actually in paid employment and for those that have more severe mental illness the figure is just 7% .
Leeds Mind and Work Place Leeds are pleased to introduce a new strand to the service following their recent IPS tender win.

Meet the Team
Our Work Place Leeds / Leeds Mind well established colleague Jon Rush took on the role of managing the new IPS team and is currently working hard to make sure all the requirements of the project are being met.
Both Charlotte Padget and Lisa Fisher recently joined Workplace Leeds as their new IPS Specialists based at De Lacy House and are working with IPS clients to deliver this exciting contract.
Lisa: “It’s an exciting time to join Leeds Mind and work on this new contract by working with clients to achieve their potential which will be personally motivating and fulfilling”.
Charlotte: “It’s wonderful to come into such a welcoming (and growing!) team at Workplace Leeds. I have always been passionate about supporting people with mental health difficulties, so having the opportunity to work for Mind and aid peoples journey to achieve their goals is brilliant. The IPS contract is great as it empowers the client to have a voice in the process to find their desired role. We have the ability to really focus on creating the bridge between our client and their employer to take their next steps into work, increase awareness of in-work support needs to ensure appropriate and sustained employment.”

So what is IPS?
Evidence-based models, such as Individual Placement and Support (IPS), have a track record of delivering outstanding client job outcomes and this model supports people with mental health difficulties to find the employment of their choosing.
Part of this contract involves employer engagement with Leeds based employers to help our IPS clients secure their chosen role. “

If you would like to read more about IPS please see

Both Lisa and Charlotte will be working alongside Employment Support and Job Retention teams to support the service in both finding and maintaining employment for clients.
You can now follow IPS on Twitter at @lpsLeeds or call them on Tel: 0113 230 2203 and speak with either Jon, Lisa or Charlotte to find out more!

On behalf of the IPS team – this blog was written by Lisa Fisher (IPS Employment Specialist)

Photo (from right): Jon Rush, Charlotte Padget and Lisa Fisher

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Filed under Employment Support, Inspirational, New initiatives, Staff introduction, WorkPlace Leeds NEWS

Ed – A Story of the Employment Support He Has Provided.

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I have worked for Work Place Leeds / Community Links for 8 years and have supported several hundreds of individuals with mental health needs towards and into employment. I have met with many people and witnessed journeys of many individuals turning their lives around. This journey of someone I have supported in the past is truly inspirational.

My client had been struggling with motivation and self-esteem after his first psychotic episode last year. He had to shut a new business down and thought he could not work again. Being newly wedded he felt he had let his wife down and would be seen as a failure to his family and the community.

His sleep patterns were all out of line with normal working people, he slept during the day and stayed up at night. He knew he was depressed and was receiving help from his care coordinator. He had started taking antidepressants which after some time helped a bit but the feeling of being a failure still stayed with him.

He met me as his allocated employment worker at home with his wife present. She has taken an active part of his recovery. We had a good chat and I explained to my client what support can be available. My client however at that stage did not know what he wanted to do for work as he felt that he could not do anything.
As an employment specialist I helped my client to look at his skills and experience and consider new opportunities that he had not thought about before. In the past my client has been very active in voluntary charity work but had always worked in a business setting.

My client started to look for positions in the third sector, it was an area that he had never thought about as a career choice. I reassured my client that people working in the charity sector were much more aware of mental health issues. We spoke about disclosure of a mental health condition in the workplace. As his employment worker I reassured my client regarding his mental health disclosure preferences.

My client started to apply for work but got a few applications rejected, which had a negative impact on his confidence. It made him question his readiness to go back to work.

As his worker I offered to look at his previous applications and offered support with completing the next one. With my guidance my client has realised that completing an employment application is a skill in itself.
From this application he got an interview, and we spent time together preparing for the interview.

My client was offered the job and he has been working there since. His confidence has grown and he has started to think about new opportunities. He would like to start his own business again.

Written by:
Ed Tyler – Mental Health Employment Specialist 

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Filed under Client Stories, Employment Support, Inspirational, Mental Health & Employment