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 - Birmingham IPS employment advisor for Walking With The Wounded helping ex military - Injured veterans UK

A day in the life of... Employment Advisor Victoria

Meet Victoria - Walking With The Wounded's IPS employment advisor in Birmingham

Victoria joined Walking With The Wounded (WWTW) in 2018 as an IPS Employment Advisor and works within Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust to provide employment support to the ex-servicemen and women who are receiving mental health treatment there. 

She practices an evidenced based model of employment support called IPS (Individual Placement and Support) - essentially personalised support for the ex-military we work with to help them find and sustain appropriate paid employment. 

Vicky, how does the service you provide work? 

WWTW is integrated with the community mental health teams within Birmingham and Solihull. As an Employment Advisor I work alongside healthcare professionals so that the mental health and employment support go hand-in-hand. This is a key feature of the IPS model that WWTW has adopted. 

I have also branched out to Birmingham Healthy minds, an NHS primary care psychological therapies service that works closely with Birmingham GPs to help veterans who may go through their service. When ex-servicemen and women are referred to me, I work closely with the RBL to ensure they get support for financial or housing problems if they need it. 

What does a typical session with you look like?

Typically the first thing I do with a client is to find out the clients goals and aspirations for employment. Then we look at the barriers, or perceived barriers, of achieving these goals. Depending on the client we then make an action plan of longer term and short term goals for them to achieve. During the sessions we would:  

Complete or update their vocational profile and collect relevant documentation if needed

Review what has happened since last session; have they attended job fairs or interviews, for example

Set tasks; some for me and some for the service user and then the next time we review those to check we’re both on track 

Discuss what I will do between sessions to find suited opportunities for the client

Support the service user to edit or create a CV or help with mock interview techniques 

Talk about any personal concerns, barriers (or perceived barriers) into work

Discuss referrals to other agencies for support with debt or housing, for example

Finish by setting a date for the next session

What do your service users struggle with? 

Clients normally struggle with accepting help for their mental health. They sometimes struggle to trust me at the start, particularly in sharing details about their past, which may be affecting their mental health, which then affects employment.  However, I’ve seen this change over time as I build rapport with them.  

What are you most proud of in this role?

From the 16 clients that have engaged with IPS within the NHS trust since February, there has been nine job outcomes, two promotions, four people who have gone into training and one person who has successfully got into University. I’m extremely proud of these results given that my role is still fairly new.

I love to work with the clients to see them develop and achieve an outcome that will change their daily routine. I like watching the transformation from the beginning with little support network to when they are in work where they are well supported by the employer, mental health services and their family.

And lastly, what is a focus for you in the role in the future?

I worry that there are veterans who don’t know about the support I can provide. Perhaps people who have been disengaged for a long time. I would like WWTW to have more of a presence within Birmingham and Solihull to discover new veterans who may need support. 

To find out more about WWTW’s employment service and our IPS centres contact or read more about our programmes here