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From Participant to Employee: How This Innovation Project Is Creating Lasting Change

Graeme standing in front of Millennium Bridge

Graeme joined Moving On Tyne & Wear (MOTW) after being unemployed for two years. Suffering with anxiety and depression following alcohol addiction, he had lost a lot of his self-confidence and drive to move forward.

Today, Graham is an employee of the programme and is using his experience to conduct valuable research which will inform support provided by services in the future.

How it all started

When Graeme met his Navigator, Sally, he didn’t know what to expect after being far away from the job market and unemployed for a significant period of time. Sally helped him identify his skills which allowed him to realise he was a valued member of society who had a lot to give back to the world, something which he’d long stopped believing.

Together, they began working on job applications and Graeme started to develop a more positive approach to his life. He was actively job searching, getting out of the house, and managing his anxiety.

After working with him for some time, Sally told Graeme about the launch of one of MOTW’s Innovation Projects. This project was coordinated in Gateshead where Changing Lives, one of our lead partners, is based.

The project set out to recruit programme participants to explore the connection between substance misuse and unemployment through the format of peer research. Sally had been working with Graeme for some time and could see his growing drive to help people as his confidence grew. She felt his skill set would be a good fit for involvement in this project and Graeme was eager to take part due to his first-hand experience with this barrier.

Moving Forward

Along with a handful of other participants, the first step was to learn the skills required to conduct proper peer research. The programme arranged for all interested participants to complete an NVQ in Peer Research. This helped Graeme and his colleague gain a valuable qualification and set the team on their way to begin their work.

After a few months, and once the core data collection was well underway, the programme saw an opportunity to utilise the Peer Researcher’s work and create an outcome which would ultimately inform the delivery of support by local support services and potentially even government policy.

MOTW was able to offer three paid positions to any participants who were involved in the research so that they could compile a formal report and put the research into action.

MOTW’s three peer researchers

The thee MOTW with a training award certificate

Ultimately, three of the participants involved in the Innovation Project applied for the part-time, fixed term role to complete their research. Graeme and his two colleagues started their jobs at MOTW in August and will be finalising the report summarising their research.

We can’t wait to share the results of this project and are excited what the future has to hold for our three Peer Researchers. We’ll be sharing their findings when they are published in the autumn.

If, like Graeme, you have a health condition holding you back from work, get in touch with us to find out how we can support you to find training and employment opportunities.



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