Student nurse, Matthew HirstTwenty-eight-year-old Matthew Hirst is excelling in his career as a student nurse, however in 2016, following a dip in his mental health, a career in nursing seemed completely unachievable.

After dropping out of school whilst studying for his A Levels, Matthew developed depression and anxiety and began to self-harming. He was referred to the community mental health team, who supported Matthew and suggested he link in with the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Employment service, run by Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust. The award-winning service has helped over 300 people like Matthew back into work since its launch in 2015.  People that have used the service are twice as likely to gain employment, compared to those seeking employment through traditional vocational services.

Matthew has benefited from the support of the service, known as ‘Making Work, Work’, an initiative that supports people with mental health problems to find and keep paid employment. Like many people experiencing mental ill health, Matthew wanted to work, but his anxiety and confidence was a barrier.

Elaborating further Matthew said: “I had lots of issues with depression and anxiety, including self-harm since dropping out of school after my A levels. I was 21 at the time.  I hadn’t really done anything for a few years, so I’d lost my confidence. Then my care coordinator told me about the IPS service. Initially I was a bit skeptical but thought I’d give it a go. I met John Flaherty from the service and felt comfortable chatting with him.  He was very person centered and asked me what I wanted to do and how I wanted to get there.”

The IPS Employment service worked with Matthew, helping to build his confidence, whilst also looking for employment and creating a CV.

Matthew continued: “I’m autistic and had support from a teaching assistant at school who was really good, so originally I wanted to pursue a career as a teaching assistant.  That’s because I knew the difference that someone who cares could make to others and I wanted to do that for other people.  I applied for a few jobs and then got an interview for a supply teaching assistant. The IPS service helped me with all the interview prep, the interview went really well and I got that job.”

Mathew enjoyed the work but wanted a more permanent position. Using the skills he’d learnt from the IPS service he applied for a position in a care home and secured a job.  Matthew quickly realised that nursing was where his true passion lay. He applied to do his nurse training at a number of institutions and was accepted by all that he’d applied to. He is now in his final year of nursing at the University of York and has credited the IPS service with helping him achieve his career ambitions. He now has plans in the pipeline to continue studying, excelling in his studies, Matthew will study for his Masters and PhD. Feedback from his nurse placements has also been incredibly positive, crediting Matthew with making a difference, often going above and beyond for the people he cares for.

Matthew concluded: “I like helping people. It boils back down to the same reason I wanted to be a teaching assistant and seeing the difference that just one person who cares can make.  Like John from the IPS service, who made a difference to me! Every time I work with patients, I want to have a positive impact on them and their recovery. Just seeing people improve and being a part of that process is so rewarding.”

John Flaherty, employment specialist and team leader with the IPS Employment service at the Trust said: “We’re delighted that Matthew has found his true vocation and a role he is passionate about. Work transforms lives – providing financial security and purpose and is a key part of recovery for good mental health.  In Matthew’s case it has also benefitted positively for individuals he cares for and their families.”

To find out more about the employment service visit: or email

For information on all mental health and wellbeing support services in Bradford and Craven and self-help resources and apps, visit