Sidekicks London empowers those recovering from mental illness to find work

Recruitment agency, Sidekicks London has launched a not-for-profit initiative to help those recovering from mental illness re-enter the workplace.

Managing Director, Jessica Williams designed the programme to help those suffering from low self-esteem, those recovering from addictions, mothers returning to work, members of the transgender community who have experienced discrimination at work, and those experiencing mental health problems.

It takes referrals from a number of charities such as Free Me, CARED and the Amy Winehouse Foundation, and has already helped around 65 participants. The programme is run by Williams and Gemma Rose Thomas – the latter, a qualified Recovery Coach.

Williams explains why she decided to launch the programme: “Returning to work after a period of coping with intense mental pressure – for whatever reason – can be utterly terrifying. I’ve seen people close to me suffer terribly from low self-esteem and mental health issues, and the idea of being able to cope within a workplace environment can seem like an impossible dream.

“The shocking thing is that there’s no need for this to be a problem on such a large scale. Often, programme participants need very little from us in terms of practical support – a series of mentoring sessions coupled with interview and CV coaching can work wonders – and the results are unbelievable.”

Thomas explains why she joined the initiative: “I believe it is the single most important initiative around right now in terms of practically tackling a problem that is important, but unfashionable: how to help people battling with mental health issues get back into the workplace. One of the reasons that ‘Work to Recover’ is so effective is that we’re not a charity. We’re a privately funded, not-for profit initiative, which means that our remit can be very broad – we can help anyone who needs us, and we don’t have to turn away people who don’t ‘fit the mould’.” 

Williams adds: “We’re seeing people leaving us with the ability to stand on their own two feet and support themselves. I set up Work to Recover because I firmly believe that work can be vital in assisting and maintaining recovery from a wide range of mental health issues. Work to Recover aims to provide a bridge back to ‘normal life’ and be instrumental in rebuilding damaged confidence and self-esteem.”

The ‘Work to Recover’ initiative provides:

  • Career coaching on both group and individual bases
  • Personalised interview training
  • Career change advice, guidance and support
  • CV and cover letter workshops
  • Short-term placements/internships
  • Identification of key strengths, specialist knowledge and transferable job skills
  • Personal drivers for purpose, ambition and happiness in work
  • Advice on building an online profile and self-marketing
  • Working on building confidence and self-esteem
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