Thames Reach
Friday 17 November 2017
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Benefits for service user employees

The benefits for service user employees are many, including increased self-worth, hope and a route away from the difficult aspects of daily life, all wrapped up in a meaningful job with high levels of satisfaction and personal and professional rewards


  • Increased self-confidence, self-esteem and self-respect
  • Gaining respect from others
  • Being trusted and relied upon by others
  • Gaining positive feedback
  • The chance to leave old labels behind, such as ‘client’, ‘homeless person’, ‘mental health issue’, and take on new labels, such as ‘member of staff’, ‘colleague’, ‘trainee’ and ‘employee’
  • Raised expectations of team members and supervisor
  • Negative experiences are transformed into something that can be put to very positive use
  • Being a positive role model to other service users
  • The opportunity to give to others
  • Contributing to the improvement of the organisation and the services it delivers

Positive daily life

  • Employment provides structure and a routine focused on positive, confidence-building activities
  • It provides a regular escape from the negative aspects of daily life experienced by many service users, including boredom, anxiety, chaotic people and substance misuse
  • It presents the opportunity to meet new people and build new social networks around the positive experience of work
  • Earning a salary means the employee can gain economic independence and an opportunity to be financially self-sufficient
  • Work life counteracts the potential institutionalisation of hostel life and the role of ‘service user’
  • An employee becomes a member of a team, and can develop a sense of belonging

Job satisfaction

  • Employment is genuine, and not a manufactured exercise to make up the numbers. While volunteering is ‘practice’, employment is real
  • A deepened sense of purpose
  • Individuals are given a second chance and the opportunity to support and model this through their work
  • The ability to connect to the client group as a result of their first-hand experience of homelessness
  • Putting experience to good use – to provide knowledge and expertise for colleagues to tap into, and to be a role model for the aspirations of the organisation for clients, adding greater credibility to the organisation’s ethos
  • Concentrating on client’s abilities and aptitudes rather than concentrating on their issues
  • Having ownership of their work
  • Assisting service users to contribute to society

Hope for the future

  • Experience of work and the new skills and qualifications gained opens up further opportunities and routes into employment
  • A sense of hope for the future – one employer agency commented that service users are accustomed their key worker having hope on their behalf, but that the experience of gaining employment gives them first-hand experience of hope, which is extremely powerful
  • A second chance – a genuine opportunity to start again