Feedback from the decorators indicated that the work provides structure and a sense of purpose to their week. Their role has increased their self-esteem as they are identified as an employee and part of a team rather than a patient or volunteer.
Most of our employees have extensive employment histories, and being unemployed compounds feelings of low self-worth and self-esteem. Working on the project gives them the opportunity to re-establish their skills.
Long term mental health service use and chronic social exclusion had left the participants isolated and unsure about their vocational prospects. Being part of the decorating project enables them to gain a sense of purpose in their life. For the first time in years they were needed and appreciated.
Most of the work trainees have either undertaken alternative, mainly voluntary, work in the past or been encouraged to do so by their care teams. However this had not been sustained. Many service users see voluntary work as an activity to do when an in-patient, but it not as ‘proper work.’ The work done for recover, however, provides more prospects.
A care co-coordinator who has referred to the project described how this had helped his client engage:
Engaging in a work project where service users are given responsibilities (e.g. Being the main on site contact and liaison person) and trusted to work in restricted areas (E.g. working in staff offices) has made a significant impact on the decorators’ self-esteem. This was the first time others had shown faith in their abilities and reliability.