Columns

We know that many people have been struggling recently with their mental health and may have also found gaining or retaining paid employment difficult.

In fact, 1 in 4 people will suffer from mental ill health in their lifetime and this can significantly affect their work and personal lives.

Maintaining a rewarding job and having a supportive employer can make a real difference in improving mental wellbeing, and that’s why our Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Employment Service is here to help.

Working as the Occupational Therapy Vocational Lead and Service Development Manager at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, has allowed me to lead the IPS team in supporting people with mental health problems to find and retain paid employment.

We accept referrals from the adult Community Mental Health Team (CMHT), the Early Intervention in Psychosis team, and from consultants within adult CMHTs who see outpatients.

Individuals who express an interest in paid employment will be matched with one of our Employment Specialists, who will then provide personalised support and guidance to find them an appropriate role.

We are passionate about helping others to find the ‘right’ work as this can help someone to develop social networks, build self-esteem, gain purpose in their day, develop new skills, improve their financial situation, and increase physical and mental activity.

So far this year, the team have been successful in placing over 60 service users in paid employment.

This includes Brian, who successfully joined LPFT as a peer support worker within the Louth adult CMHT in August 2019.

He has since obtained a place on the mental health nursing course at the University of Lincoln and is excited to start this October.

Brian had previously been unemployed for over 15 years due to illness and felt anxious about looking for jobs and returning to work.

Michelle from the IPS Employment Service helped with CVs, applications, interview preparation, reducing anxiety, building confidence, and providing general support.

Without the help of the IPS team, Brian said he would never have had the confidence to start his new career and added that his mental health is the best it has ever been.

We are thrilled for Brian and would like to say that it is never too late to build your skills and pursue your passions in a new role.

During the pandemic, our team have had to adapt to new ways of working and be creative to ensure that the people who access our service still receive support that meets their needs.

Our service continues to work closely with local employers across Lincolnshire to find suitable employment opportunities, which is a crucial part of the work that we do.

We are currently searching for more businesses to engage with us so that we can continue to help the people that we support, in addition to the local economy and employers themselves.

Employers using our service have benefited from finding new dedicated employees who have been expertly matched to the role by our team.

We also provide advice to these businesses, educate about mental health conditions, and explore the reasonable adjustments that may be required to aid individuals in their new positions.

If you are an employer with vacancies in the county and would like to be involved or find out more, please contact the IPS Employment Service via Sara at [email protected] or visit our website at www.lpft.nhs.uk/thinking-about-work.

Sara is the Occupational Therapy Vocational Lead and Service Development Manager at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

The government’s plan to curfew pubs at 10pm is absurd and counter-productive.

In yet another change of government policy on the COVID-19 pandemic we will see pubs and restaurants close at 10pm as of Thursday. This it is suggested will lower the ‘spike’ or ‘second wave’ in infections that was predicted as long ago as last spring.

It is a ridiculous and futile move based on what seems to be a ‘be seen to be doing something’ strategy.

What it will actually do is deal the final blow to many businesses in this sector and cast more people on to the ballooning unemployment queue.

The cost to date of the governments COVID policies has reduced the UK economy to a basket case that will take decades to recover from. The very last thing that the UK can afford now is the loss of more businesses and jobs.

What is very notable in the latest strategies is the lack of any suggestion that this time a financial safety net will be outstretched for these already badly damaged enterprises to fall into.

How many staff will be furloughed this time? How much in grants can businesses expect to prevent them from becoming insolvent? What about supply chains and retailers who depend on selling to the hospitality sector.

On the face of it controlling the social gatherings of people does appear to be a sensible method of reducing the spread of the virus, except of course it doesn’t — if only life were really that simple.

So, let’s look at the practicalities. A night out with the lads or the lasses would usually start at about 8pm and go on until midnight. We have already forgotten what the nightclub scene looked like and that is not likely to come back now for a very long time.

So now such social gatherings will come to a resounding anti-climax, not at the end of the evening but in the middle of it. The lads and lasses already studiously abiding by the rule of six must wend their weary way home after a brief interlude of a couple of hours. Really?

Let’s look at a more likely outcome. Few friends gather at the pub, no more than six of course. They have a few beers and then the clock chimes ten. They then go off to the impromptu house party to carry on the fun.

Those of us who remember the draconian and utterly futile licensing hours of most of the 20th century can recall the traditions of the time, the carry out and the lock in, affectionately known as the late taste.

When the pubs closed at 11pm and 10.30pm on Sundays the drinking did not stop. What makes the COVID planners think it will now? It is after all their ‘logic’ that suggests that if we send everyone home early, they will not be drunk and careless about social distancing.

Closing at 10pm will not have any effect on this at all any more than the licensing hours of years ago did. The night out can start earlier shifting the concentration of customers to a different part of the day. Same number of people different time.

House parties can proliferate. Of course, those holding them can be prosecuted but is that what we have a police force for? What about the social consequences of that?

The later opening pubs allow for people to come and go in a steady flow, the early drinkers, the mid evening quick pint drinkers and those who want to stay a bit later who saunter off home at closing time.

A steady flow will now be replaced by two possibilities neither of them COVID safe. The pubs may be open for a shorter time with more people crammed into them. An infectious hotspot. Or, they lose customers, not only the later drinker but the drinkers who do not like packed and noisy pubs. No one in the hospitality sector has that luxury, with much of it on its knees and about to fall further losing customers will be the final nail.

With no end to the pandemic even remotely in sight, this will completely wreck the sector and it is unlikely to ever recover.

With no evidence that pubs are a particularly high risk of spreading COVID, with the vast majority having taken stringent measures to control the spread, it is counter intuitive to close down one of the few success stories of this pandemic.

So, the pubs and restaurants are scapegoated again. This has far more damaging consequences than simply the business failures and job losses. A part of our culture and way of life is being destroyed here. What replaces it is not likely to be pleasant.

Barry Turner is Senior Lecturer in Media Law and Public Administration at the University of Lincoln.

Last week the UK government caused a stir by suggesting that a solution to the impasse created by the failing Brexit deal talks could be resolved by the simple expedient of breaking international law.

Nothing like a revolutionary idea to get the press into a lather. Good old plucky Britain would stand up to Johnny Foreigner again by simply reneging on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

Not surprisingly this led to a tirade of outrage among not only the media and opposition benches but also significant noise from those on the Tory side. This is going to run on this week without any shadow of a doubt.

But hold on a moment, is there not some sense in this? If we can’t get a deal on our terms, why should we recognise international law that our government and the Brexit community tell us is detrimental to our national interests.

Why should the UK be dictated to by ‘foreign’ laws? Isn’t that what we voted against in the first place?

So, let’s think again before we knock the idea, maybe it is a solution after all.

While we are about it, we can perhaps look at how the solution of breaking international law might apply in dealing with some of the other knotty problems we face in the world. Maybe the architects of breaching international law have inadvertently come up with a solution after all.

Take Scottish independence for instance. Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, has demanded another referendum on the topic ‘soon’. The UK government have said they will not allow one, yet another impasse. But there is an ‘oven-ready’ solution thanks to the wise musings of our government, or more likely its advisors.

In 1707 the Parliaments of Scotland and England agreed on what became an Act of Union creating the United Kingdom. Since at the time of union Scotland was an independent state, this can only be an international treaty, underpinned as it would be by international law. So, here is the solution to the impasse. Scotland can unilaterally rewrite the Act of Union and declare itself independent. According to ministers in the UK government, this is perfectly sound.

It is a fundamental principle of British constitutional law that no parliament can bind its successors. Scotland does not need to be bound by legislation that is 213 years old. After all, British ministers are saying that the withdrawal agreement is out of date and needs rewriting after only one year, not over 200. The UK Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis reassures us that although we would in fact be breaking international law, it would only be in a “limited and specific” way, so that’s alright then.

A unilateral declaration of independence by Scotland would also be ‘limited’ to Scottish self-rule and ‘specific’ to Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon is not demanding she gets Wales too. No problem there then, and it would save all that time and effort in actually having a vote on it too.

Then of course there is Gibraltar. Spain has for as long as memory stretches back claimed that the Rock is Spanish sovereign territory. Acrimonious arguments still plague UK-Spanish international relations today and look like continuing for ever. Perhaps Spain too could use the new argument, so carefully constructed by our government and its ever so wise advisors.

Gibraltar was ceded to the then newly constituted United Kingdom by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 following the War of Spanish Succession. The Rock had been captured by English and Dutch marines during that war and the UK got to keep it. So, it is legally held by Britain under, you got it, international law. Time to apply the new oven-ready, limited and specific remedy. Spain just rewrites the Treaty of Utrecht; it too is over 200 years old and like the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement presumably out of date and in need of that rewrite.

In 1997 Britain handed back part of its old empire to China, being bound by international law to do so. Unlike Gibraltar, Hong Kong was not held in perpetuity by international treaty and this was at a time when the UK had a reputation for upholding international law. By international treaty the terms of the handover required China to recognise the different system of society and government that had grown in Hong Kong during British rule and not impose its own brand of autocracy and oppression there. Sadly, we have seen over the last couple of years that China, no respecter of international law, has breached that undertaking repeatedly.

But can we complain? Not according to the principles that determine the Internal Markets Act. China is rewriting an out of date agreement in a specific and limited fashion and they can also say they are doing it in their national interest, a concept dear to the hearts of all Brexiteers. Breaches of international law are, as we can see here, no laughing matter.

We could go on interminably because Britain is not only a signatory to thousands of international laws, it promulgated and founded so very many of them. That we would now advocate the rewriting of those that are inconvenient to current political expediency is not simply shocking, it is profoundly sad.

One last point though. In 1983 the Argentinian dictator General Galtieri and his Junta ordered the invasion of the Falkland Islands in a clear breach of international law. This to a large extent was also done for immediate political expediency since opposition to him was growing at home. We all know the history. The UK, then still a stalwart supporter of international law, sent a task force and kicked them out, resulting in not only the re-establishment of British rule of the islands, recognised by international law, but of the downfall of Galtieri’s murderous rule at home in Argentina.

It is a sobering thought that the Argentine invasion of the Falklands was also a limited and specific act designed to rewrite an out of date treaty.

The next time Boris plans cooking up his oven-ready bird he should remember that what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Barry Turner is Senior Lecturer in Media Law and Public Administration at the University of Lincoln.

+ More stories