Support, Empower and Employ people with M.E. (SEE M.E.) was a pilot project that supported people with M.E. living in Bristol, North Somerset, Gloucestershire and South Gloucester to stay in work, return to work or leave work well. Action for M.E. delivered this in partnership with the specialist M.E. clinic at North Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, and in partnership with Action on Disability and Work UK, Jobcentre Plus, Remploy and Pluss (an award-winning social enterprise) between 2015 and 2016.
SEE M.E.'s overall aim was to develop and demonstrate good practices in integrated health and employment support for people with M.E., raising aspirations and helping individuals to achieve their goals in relation to employment. The project employed specialist staff with experience of M.E. and provision of employment support, embedding them within the specialist Bristol NHS M.E. clinic, where more than 120 people with M.E. were referred or self-referred over 12 months.
Benefits for clients have included increased knowledge about rights, entitlements, welfare benefits and available services, as well as increased confidence to achieve their desired employment goal. In addition, most individuals have reported an improvement in their sense of well-being as a result of the impact SEE M.E. support has had on their employment situation.
Using the knowledge and experience gained through SEE M.E., we have updated our M.E. and work (for people with M.E.) and An employer's guide to M.E. booklets, and produced a new SEE M.E. toolkit for professionals (all three publications will be available from October 2016). The toolkit supports specialist M.E. clinicians, employment advisers, work coaches and careers guidance practitioners to:
We are now undertaking a programme of work to engage with professional bodies and roll out the toolkit, including offering specialist training for employers to improve how they support their employees with M.E.