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15 March 2023

Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work Visits Tower Hamlets Talking Therapies

Tom Pursglove MP, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, visited the Tower Hamlets Talking Therapies service today. He met with staff who work in the service and two local residents who have recently used the service.
Tom Pursglove MP - Ministerial Visit

The Minister was keen to hear about the impact of Employment Advisors in the team. And to hear first-hand, the value of supporting people with common mental health conditions by providing employment advice to help them stay in work or return to work.

Minister Tom Pursglove with Tower Hamlets staff and service users in a circle
Minister Tom Pursglove [centre] with Tower Hamlets staff and service users 

He was welcomed by Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive, Lorraine Sunduza, and Borough Director for Tower Hamlets, Day Njovana, who talked about how the work in the service fitted with the Trust's strategy to improve the health of local people.

Dr Alia Hussain, Clinical Lead/Clinical Psychologist, and colleagues explained how the service works providing support and strategies to help people to address issues and build confidence, working alongside employment advisors. 

The Key Role of Employment Advisors
He heard how the team's Employment Advisors offer a range of support which includes a monthly 'Wellbeing in the Workplace' webinar - focusing on employment rights, reasonable adjustments, the Equality Act and mental health and in-work assessments to improve mental wellbeing in the workplace. Employment Advisors can assist with job retention and arrange specialist support with partnerships in the borough such as mock interview practice conducted by staff at JP Morgan in Canary Wharf.

Monton Jienpetivate, Associate Clinical Director for Primary Care Psychological Services (ELFT) & Chair of NEL IAPT Collaborative, explained how the service had become more streamlined and the benefits of the Employment Advisors working side-by-side with therapists on the person's journey. 

The Benefits of the Service
The Minister then met with Chris Heidel and Anamika Butalia, Tower Hamlets residents who have recently received Employment Advisor support. They spoke of the importance of having a focus and purpose in their lives, the value of the support they had received from the service, and how transformed they felt from their contact with the service.

Rahena Khatun, Employment Advice Service Project Manager, spoke about the high levels of deprivation in Tower Hamlets, the high unemployment rate compared with other London boroughs and noted that just over 5% of the population have a disability. The Minister, although MP for Corby, attended university at Queen Mary, University of London, so is knowledgeable of the area.

The Minister said:

“It was truly inspiring to meet staff and patients at the NHS Talking Therapies Service in Tower Hamlets, where amazing work is being done to help people with mental health conditions on their journey into, or to return to, employment.

“In the week we published our Health and Disability White Paper which set out the fundamental principle that health services and work outcomes should be better joined up, I was delighted to see how existing services are delivering this and improving lives.

“Having a fulfilling job is an enormous source of self-worth and self-pride, and in Tower Hamlets I saw how positive conversations about getting into work are also hugely important to people who are on their health journey to recovery.”

Talking Therapies Help
The service helps people with a range of issues such as low mood and depression, stress, health anxiety, shyness, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), panic attacks, agoraphobia, bereavement, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), phobias, anger issues, long-term health conditions, employment and welfare issues, and couples relationship problems.

You can find out more about the service here: Tower Hamlets Talking Therapies.