Inspiring Scheme Helps Service Users Find Employment and Meaningful Connections


The NHS SMPA exists to develop the collaboration between service users, carers and organisations, enabling services to provide the best quality care. As part of this, we want to share inspiring stories of great practice, such as this health improvement initiative at Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.

After receiving requests at a service user consultation event, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust has created a Pathways to Employment (P2E) scheme and Peer Mentoring Project. A group of service users who were dependent on drugs and/or alcohol were asked what their priorities for Pennine Care’s service development were. They responded by saying that they would like help finding employment and more accessible services to treat Hepatitis C.

Pathways to Employment (P2E)

Founded in 2011, the P2E scheme aims to provide a clear and achievable pathway from treatment to meaningful occupation, (volunteering and paid employment), for those with the most complex and entrenched addiction and mental health issues. As a six step programme, the scheme includes:

  1. Service User Involvement

  2. Participation in a Peer Mentor Course

  3. Volunteering

  4. A Pathway Worker Temporary Staffing Bank

  5. A Pathway Worker Substantive

  6. Employment Outside of P2E.

Peer Mentoring Project

The Peer Mentoring Project is a cornerstone of the Pennine Care’s P2E scheme. Under the project, candidates are supported to complete an NVQ Level 2, accredited via Open Awards, and are then offered supported work placements followed by support to gain employment on the open market.

To date, 69 people have successfully completed the course with a further 13 set to graduate in June. Of the 69 individuals who have completed the course, 65%  have successfully gained meaningful occupation, with 42% in paid employment and a further 18%  in volunteering roles.


Of particular note, graduates of the project include a number of people with significant mental health and forensic histories. This includes a military veteran with serious mental health problems as a result of their military service, and three people who have lived most of their lives in secure mental health facilities.

Whilst their freedoms may always have restrictions, the Pennine Care scheme has enabled many service users to move towards recovery, to achieve a recognised qualification, and to begin to positively contribute to the well-being of others.