Work scheme a 'vital lifeline' for man battling mental health conditions
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A Lowestoft man who has overcome seemingly "permanent barriers" to remain in work despite a number of mental health conditions has hailed a government scheme to support workers.
Aaron Dawkin was at risk of losing his job after prolonged absences due to his obsessive compulsive disorder and autistic behaviours, as well as his severe depression and anxiety.
The 40-year-old Essex and Suffolk Water customer service adviser has since been supported through the Access to Work scheme's Mental Health Service, with a wellness action plan, stress management techniques and approaches to help interact with colleagues.
Mr Dawkin said: "By being able to explain aspects of my behaviours to colleagues, my relationships with them have improved.
"They recognise I sometimes need quiet time and space, and I'm able to reciprocate by recognising that not everyone is like me.
"I now feel equipped to deal with the challenges my job presents. Although I still have difficult times, I can now navigate my way through them, and don't feel as risk from long periods of absence.
"What appeared to be permanent barriers have now become challenges I can overcome.
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"So many things have now become possible that I never dreamed would be."
Mr Dawkin is among a record 43,000 people across the UK being supported by the Access to Work scheme in 2019/20, a 20pc increase on the year before.
Justin Tomlinson, minister for disabled people, said: "Access to Work provides a vital lifeline to help people who might be struggling to find and stay in work because their disability or health condition has been a barrier to being in the workplace.
"This year has been challenging and I would encourage anyone with a health condition or disability who needs extra support in the workplace to find out how Access to Work may help them."
Gareth Parry, chief executive of Remploy, which delivers the service, said: "Every year the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service helps thousands of people to remain in employment and achieve happier, healthier working lives.
"We're incredibly proud of the support our vocational rehabilitation consultants provide across every sector and region of England, Scotland and Wales."