Poverty is identified as a key driver of most negative outcomes for people – in education, social care, health, homelessness, and crime. Unemployment and low wages contribute to the reasons why people experience poverty. Due to structural barriers, Black people are more likely to be unemployed and when employed are more likely to be in low paid and insecure jobs.
Since March 2020 Impact on Urban Health has funded Black Thrive Lambeth’s Employment Project to improve systems to increase meaningful employment amongst Black residents in Lambeth. This was based on evidence (prior to the Covid-19 pandemic) that as well as having poorer employment outcomes, Black people disproportionately bear the burden of long-term health conditions (LTCs). These two factors act as a loop: poor work or unemployment can lead to poor health, and poor health can lead to work insecurity or unemployment.
The aim of our employment work has been to break this cycle – increase meaningful employment to prevent the onset or exacerbation of LTCs and to support recovery (particularly from mental ill health).
We have published several pieces of research and evaluation, including a systematic literature review, a rapid review of the employment support for Black people with long term health conditions, as well as developmental and summative evaluation reports. Alongside this, we have partnered with individuals and organisations to produce community research, research on the employment system for SLaM patients, as well as research with employment support providers in Lambeth. We also support partner organisations to better collect and analyse employment and equalities data and use this to influence their service delivery.
We hope that critiquing existing data, producing new knowledge, and sharing our learnings will contribute to shifting the narrative to one that recognises that employment and health are linked, and that employment is a universal right and a social responsibility.
We trained 13 Black people as community and peer researchers (of whom at least 7 were also Disabled); four people were also trained as evaluators. We established a lived experience Employment Working Group of Black community members who either had long term health conditions or cared for someone who did. Working group members were given the decision-making power to distribute a £300,000 grant pot; they chose to fund 13 community projects. Lived experience experts are also embedded in our No Wrong Door partnership; they feed into the project by co-producing new tools and ways of working to support the improvement of the employment support system in Lambeth. Below you will find a resource mapping our learnings on how to best facilitate an effective Working Group.
Although there are over 130 known organisations providing employment support in Lambeth, there is currently no coherent system of employment support for residents. If residents find the right support that suits them, it is by accident rather than by design. We have partnered with five of the borough’s specialist employment support providers to form the No Wrong Door partnership. Alongside ourselves, the partnership is made up of Disability Advice Service Lambeth, Renaisi, High Trees, Lambeth Vocational Services and First Step Trust. All partners are committed to working together to pilot a “mini system” of community-based providers who seek to improve the employment support landscape for Black and Disabled residents. We aim to move away from a system of competition to a collaborative network of providers delivering mutually reinforcing activities. Our long-term ambition is to have a collaborative, co-ordinated and coherent system between employment support providers in Lambeth, who will work together to support Black and Disabled residents to find meaningful employment.
We also focus on working in partnership with anchor institutions involved in the employment and healthcare systems in the borough. These include Lambeth Council, South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and King’s College London, as well as employment support providers and community organisations.We supported Lambeth Council to analyse its employment data and provided a framework for setting ethnicity targets for its employment programmes. We also supported the Vocational Rehabilitation Association to carry out an equality survey of its members and the Occupational Therapy team at SLaM have now added ethnicity to their recording of vocational status and aspirations for patients. We are also collaborating with borough-wide commissioners and decision-makers to ensure that improved policy, practice, and resource flow leads to better employment outcomes for Black and Disabled communities.
Below you can see who we previously funded, all grantees delivered initiatives that supported Black people with long-term conditions to find meaningful work.