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Businesses Invited to Apply for a Share of £6.2M Funding to Deliver Support Scheme

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Local therapists and other businesses are being invited to apply for a share of £6.2m funding to help combat work sickness absence across Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire and Gwynedd.

Pioneering social enterprise Rhyl City Strategy (RCS Wales) is inviting providers of physical and psychological therapies, and legal and financial support, to help deliver their flagship In Work Support Service.

It comes after Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport Ken Skates announced £6.2m EU and Welsh Government funding package to continue the In Work Support service for another four years.

The In Work Support service provides free and confidential support to people experiencing common mental and physical health conditions ranging from musculoskeletal issues to stress, helping them to return to work after sickness absence.

It also helps to improve the wellbeing and productivity of people whose health condition is limiting their ability to work effectively, supporting them to stay in work.

In the past three years the In Work Support Service has helped over 3,400 employed or self-employed people to improve their health and wellbeing at work.

RCS Wales is now on a mission to find the region’s best providers to deliver some of the key services covered by the IWS programme.

Contracts up for grabs include those for physiotherapy, osteopathy, psychological therapies including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), counselling, chiropody, podiatry, dietetics, employment law support and financial capability support.

It comes as RCS Wales is this year celebrating ten years as a social enterprise supporting employees and employers across Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire and Gwynedd.

The organisation, which has its headquarters in Rhyl and another base in Bangor, is holding a Meet the Buyers event in Conwy Business Centre on January 15 with further small group sessions in January 2019 to provide additional guidance with the tender process.

Alison Thomas Operational Director at RCS Wales, said:

“We are delighted that we have been allocated £6.2m in additional EU and Welsh Government funding.

“This significant funding boost will allow us to continue our work in supporting employees and business owners to create healthy, positive and productive workplaces until December 2022.

“We are now in a position to begin recruiting providers to help us deliver the programme, and continue our focus on reducing absenteeism, particularly in SMEs.

“We will be recruiting physical therapists, psychological therapists and providers other services such and legal and financial support, to enable us to enhance our work with employers and employees to improve attendance and wellbeing at work.

“Anyone we have worked with before is welcome to apply as are those who have not. We are keen to speak with as many providers as possible to ensure we have the best cohort of experts in our network.”

Ms Thomas said:

“The In Work Support Service provides vital support to help keep employees in work in the face of individual health challenges.

“It brings enormous, life changing benefits both for employed and self-employed people and for the North Wales business community as a whole.”

She added:

“In addition in 2019, we will also be looking for more employers to work with, to help shape targeted solutions to suit their workforces, and delivering courses in topics including resilience, motivation and sleep.”

The In Work Support Service is part-funded by European Social Funding through the Welsh Government.

Mr Skates revealed a total £9.4m additional funding for the In Work Support Service, at a special event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of RCS in November.

Of this, £6.2m was allocated to RCS Wales and  £3.2m was awarded to Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABMU), which delivers the service in South Wales.

RCS Wales is a not-for profit social enterprise that helps people enter, sustain and progress in employment through improving health and wellbeing and employability. It was set up in 2008 and employs 17 people.

So far the In Work Support service has helped 3,400 employed or self-employed people to get back up and running following a period of ill health.

Clients contact the service for support with common mental health or musculo-skeletal conditions that are having a negative impact on them at work, and putting them at risk of long-term absence.

The support helps employees to return to work or to full productivity, thereby saving their employers the cost of further sick pay and cover, and gives clients the tools to manage their own wellbeing after they have left the service.

The service also provides training and support for small to medium sized businesses who are looking to reduce absenteeism and improve wellbeing in the workplace.

Over 200 employers have already attended half-day workshops on a range of wellbeing topics. This element of the service will be strengthened through the new funding, allowing RCS to respond to employer requests for workplace training to help employees improve confidence, motivation and resilience.

Announcing the funding Mr Skates said:

“The cost to the Welsh economy of work-related ill health is estimated at £500 million per annum and we know that SME employers and their employees are disproportionately affected by sickness absence at work.

“That is one of the reasons why our new Economic Contract encourages businesses to promote good health in the workplace.

“To further support this ambition I am pleased to announce an additional £9.4m for the In Work Support Programme.

“I hope this will help to prevent people with common health conditions from falling out of work, and will also encourage businesses to build healthier work places.”

The In Work Support programme was launched across Conwy, Denbighshire, Gwynedd and Anglesey in 2015 and is aimed at employees of small to medium sized businesses, who may not otherwise have access to occupational health support.

The programme aligns with the Welsh Government’s Prosperity for All plan as well as its Economic Action Plan, Employability Plan and its Health strategy – A Healthier Wales.

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