Walsall is the 25th most deprived local authority area in England. The claimant count for Walsall at the beginning of the pandemic was 8605 in March 2020 rising to 14,665 in January 2021 before lowering again to 11,165 in January 2022.

This represents a +29.8% change in the number of local Walsall residents claiming unemployment support benefits during the period Mach 2020 and January 2022.

In August 2020 whg, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, Walsall College and the Department of Work and Pensions, began working collaboratively to support disadvantaged adults to gain employment. 

A pilot ‘Work 4 Health’ programme was developed offering the opportunity to upskill and retrain unemployed local jobseekers, many made redundant as a result of the pandemic and to offer opportunities within the borough that will lead to substantive employment with the Trust.

This initial pilot resulted in 14 unemployed candidates being offered support services job roles within Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust. 

It was highlighted as an excellent example of cross-sector collaboration at place level as a means of tackling the wider
determinants of health, widening the NHS candidate pool and a way of improving workforce retention.

Feedback recently received from a HSJ award entry praised the programme stating:

“This is a very worthwhile and effective initiative. It would be good to see it spread far and wide as it’s clearly effective. It would be good to see this at a greater scale than currently undertaken, but this is a great start and it will make a very big difference to the local economy and community. This is a very good Entry.”

“An excellent local initiative which aims to get people in the Walsall area into paid employment at Walsall Manor Hospital. This is a great piece of work which has undoubtedly had a life-changing impact on those who have found employment. This is only limited by the relatively small numbers involved and the fact that this is very local to Walsall. It would be good to see evidence of this initiative being shared nationally as I'm sure other areas could learn lessons from your experiences. Well done.”

Since the entry additional funding has been made available by the Trust to further develop and resource the programme and to extend it to other NHS job roles.

A further 44 local jobseekers have secured jobs within Walsall Healthcare Trust, following support from the
programme, bringing the total to 75.

Out of these 75 job outcomes, 81% were unemployed or economically inactive previously, 51% were from Ethnic Minority Communities and all from areas where unemployment levels are consistently high and where health outcomes are poor.

Plans are in place now to expand the programme ensuring that the majority of entry-level jobs are recruited using this model.